Four Poems

Sarah Bridgins

Happy Birthday


When we met, you said

you wanted a woman

who could kill you.

I forgot about this,

and kept trying to keep you alive.


Last year, I bought you a winter coat

grey, with anchors on the buttons,

extra lining, the kind of thing

someone else would wear,

a person concerned

with enduring the cold.


This year, I planned to get you

the Dune board game,

and the ability to keep your blood

in your body.


I would tell you "Happy Birthday,"

but speaking to you

when we're apart

makes me feel like my skin

is separating from my bones.


Instead, I will dance

with a stranger

eat vegetables with dinner,

attempt to give you the gift

of moving on.



 About the Writer
Split Lip Press

Sarah Bridgins is a writer and performer living in Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in NAP, Ampersand Review, Sink Review, Luna Luna, Two Serious Ladies, Monkeybicycle, and Big Lucks, among other journals. You can read more of her work at



Return to Oz


I called because I needed you

but also because

you're one of the last people I love

who is still alive.


We've been here before.

We sat in diners

ate grilled cheese and apple pie,

stood alone

in empty rooms surrounded

by the sound of chanting monks.


This time

there are rules.


If you’re wandering

through the desert

don’t fall down,

or your body will turn into sand

then scatter

in the parched wind.

If I kiss your face,

my head will be removed

and placed in a glass cabinet

with all the other mouths

that have made the same mistake.


I cried when I realized

this was a ghost love

the spirit of our past returned

from the dead

to hold my hand,

haunt my heart.


"Think about sadder things," you said

to comfort me.





Saying you have a best friend

feels childish until

most of your family dies

and it starts to mean

twin, soothsayer, lifeguard.

Two years ago my mother died,

then my grandmother.

This time it’s my father.

When Leigh comes over

I am sitting on the couch

burrowed in a hamster nest

of tissues and stained quilts.

My hair is in a ponytail

on top of my head and she tells me

I look like a Barbie doll.

"That's me," I say

"Seen Too Much Barbie!"

I am hilarious

when I'm traumatized


She brings me a stack of

Glamour magazines

and a copy of  Survival at Auschwitz.

I only want to read about

beauty tips and genocide.


We drink cheap wine, make plans

for the future

that include a trip to Paris

and her parents

adopting me.

Occasionally I stop our conversation,

say I have to cry.

It's like throwing up,

violent and emptying.


"I don't understand

how this happened." I say

over and over again

until it no longer makes sense.

None of this makes sense.

The people who brought me

into the world are gone

and if I am them and they

no longer exist,

what does that make me?


Eventually she has to leave.

It’s late, the bottle’s empty.

We hug and say goodbye,

both of us buzzing, red-cheeked,

so alive.



Red Shift


The promise of any new relationship

is followed by my assurance

that I am simply collecting

more people to miss.


Everyone knows

the best way to draw someone

close, is to stop loving them.


“I feel like I’m making you sad

just by existing,” said every man

I’ve ever met.


How do I tell them

I am filled with the dead?

That my heart is a bellows

puffing out air?

That true bonds are built

on how much of your blood

I have seen, how many bodies

you have helped me bury?


I only know one way

to tolerate the end of things:


None of this ever happened.

You don't even exist.