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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