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Double Portraits

He wouldn’t say it, wouldn’t say he would love her forever

Brittany Perham, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize
Brittany Perham, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize

Double Portrait

  • All those times I said “forever”
  • as in, “Will you love me forever?”
  • then waited for you to say,
  • “Yes, I will love you forever,”
  • while you drained your glass and said
  • instead, “There is no forever,”
  • if in a bad mood or, if good,

  • “You’ll be asking me about forever forever,”
  • (grammatically suggesting, “until we die,”
  • the happy equivalent of forever),
  • I swiveled my stool, I drank my wine;
  • I knew I’d be doing this forever
  • come hell or high water,

  • come a future minus you or forever,
  • and it began to snow on the football fields
  • on the TV screens, forever
  • a comfort in the comforting bars
  • that have been around forever,
  • playing fields for every lover
  • whose question about forever
  • her lover can never answer
  • even if he tries forever,
  • even if he tells her, in his own words,
  • the perfect line ending in “forever,”
  • because the question she’s asking
 she’s asking
  • herself: “Will I love you forever?”
  • I drain my glass.

  • The answer could be yes.

Double Portrait

  • When you’re dad-close
  • I can smell your liver
  • You build the house
  • From the inside out
  • Standing on the airy platform
  • With a nail in your dad-teeth
  • Hammer hammer
  • It’s working isn’t it
  • I’ll make a telephone
  • With bean cans and string
  • Hammer hello-o

  • Your dad-eye watery close
  • To the first wall’s last nail

  • It’s as far down to the ground
  • As I’ve ever seen
  • Without a railing
  • and when you’re dad-close
  • I’ll stay with you girl-close
  • I’ll girl-stay without falling failing until
  • You’re on the ground or in it

Brittany Perham is the author of Double Portrait (forthcoming from W.W. Norton, 2017), which received the Barnard Women Poets Prize; The Curiosities (Free Verse Editions, 2012); and, with Kim Addonizio, the collaborative chapbook The Night Could Go in Either Direction (Slapering Hol Press, 2016). She is a Jones lecturer in the creative writing program at Stanford University, where she was a Wallace Stegner fellow. She lives in San Francisco.

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Brittany Perham, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize
Brittany Perham, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize

Double Portrait

  • All those times I said “forever”
  • as in, “Will you love me forever?”
  • then waited for you to say,
  • “Yes, I will love you forever,”
  • while you drained your glass and said
  • instead, “There is no forever,”
  • if in a bad mood or, if good,

  • “You’ll be asking me about forever forever,”
  • (grammatically suggesting, “until we die,”
  • the happy equivalent of forever),
  • I swiveled my stool, I drank my wine;
  • I knew I’d be doing this forever
  • come hell or high water,

  • come a future minus you or forever,
  • and it began to snow on the football fields
  • on the TV screens, forever
  • a comfort in the comforting bars
  • that have been around forever,
  • playing fields for every lover
  • whose question about forever
  • her lover can never answer
  • even if he tries forever,
  • even if he tells her, in his own words,
  • the perfect line ending in “forever,”
  • because the question she’s asking
 she’s asking
  • herself: “Will I love you forever?”
  • I drain my glass.

  • The answer could be yes.

Double Portrait

  • When you’re dad-close
  • I can smell your liver
  • You build the house
  • From the inside out
  • Standing on the airy platform
  • With a nail in your dad-teeth
  • Hammer hammer
  • It’s working isn’t it
  • I’ll make a telephone
  • With bean cans and string
  • Hammer hello-o

  • Your dad-eye watery close
  • To the first wall’s last nail

  • It’s as far down to the ground
  • As I’ve ever seen
  • Without a railing
  • and when you’re dad-close
  • I’ll stay with you girl-close
  • I’ll girl-stay without falling failing until
  • You’re on the ground or in it

Brittany Perham is the author of Double Portrait (forthcoming from W.W. Norton, 2017), which received the Barnard Women Poets Prize; The Curiosities (Free Verse Editions, 2012); and, with Kim Addonizio, the collaborative chapbook The Night Could Go in Either Direction (Slapering Hol Press, 2016). She is a Jones lecturer in the creative writing program at Stanford University, where she was a Wallace Stegner fellow. She lives in San Francisco.

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