Poetry

Sarah Bridgins

Hinterlands

The last time I prayed
was over a votive candle
in a bar bathroom.
It didn't work.
The disaster I feared
came to pass.
I had to find a new trauma
to dread.

Other times I've prayed:
When my mother was in the hospital
with a hole in her neck
carved out by doctors,
a fresh entrance into
the bloody cave
of her body.
I didn't know
if I wanted her to live
or die, so I just prayed
for something to happen.

I prayed after I called the police
because I had not heard
from my father in two days,
the person I spoke to so often
that this was alarming.

They found him dead
in his room,
a heart attack
the realization
of my most paranoid
fantasies.

When I can't sleep
sometimes I recite the prayer
I said as a child
asking God to bless
the ones I love.
The list keeps getting shorter,
but the living
still outnumber
the dead.

 

Night Soil

The most heroic act I've ever performed
was picking up my college roommate's shit
as it floated through our apartment
on a river of overflowing toilet water.

The boy she had a crush on
was on his way upstairs, and I had to think fast,
wrapping it in a paper towel just in time,
pretending it was a dog's.

It was thrilling,
how disgusting this was.

Once, I tore off my big toenail.
caught it on a heavy door.
It didn't bleed,
just popped straight up
like the tab on a soda can.

A few years before my father died
he developed a carbuncle on his back,
an abscess with many heads.
When it had swollen
to the size of an 8 ball, he carved
into it with a kitchen knife.

Inside there was pus,
and flakes of something hard
like fingernails.
It was putrid, he said
and I imagined smelling
your own rotting corpse.

 

Fallout

I like to feel small
in spaces
that barely contain me.

When I was a child
I fantasized about living
in an apartment the size
of my bedroom.

Realizing this dream as an adult
wasn't so fun, but still
sometimes I soothe myself
to sleep by imagining
I've been buried alive.

At night, I fish cat hairs
out of my wine
and pretend
I'm in a bunker.

I could live for years
on frozen pizzas
and seltzer water,
bourbon and cable TV,
while the world outside
collapsed.

And if the loneliness
grew overwhelming,
I'd think of my mother
going on
after everyone left her,
getting up in the morning
to feed her cat,
water the plants.


Sarah Bridgins' work has appeared in Tin House, BuzzFeed, Bustle, Luna Luna, Thrush, Big Lucks, Fanzine, Joyland, Yes, Poetry, and Flapperhouse among other journals. She is a four time Pushcart Prize nominee and the cofounder and cohost of the Ditmas Lit reading series in Brooklyn. You can find more of her work at www.sarahbridgins.com.

Emily Corwin