A Pessimist’s Notes on “Brute Strength” by Emily Skaja

Lindsay Duffy

When I am dead & buried, do not remember 

the bull-whipped woman with bitten nails & frayed hair, 

whose last breath was not an exhale but 

some choked-on worry pushing its way through collapsing lungs. 

Instead, remember the girl— 

running on thin legs & scraped, bug-bitten knees, 

arms flailing like flags at full-mast, 

letting out a battle cry, pelting boys with bricks of mulch 

flecked with her own blood. 

Girl who brewed spells of red mud & tap water, who told  

horror stories to the violets, who was  

never the baby, never the protected, always the aggressor.  

Where did she run off to? Dead  

Since 7, now joined in the ground by a strange woman  

in a white dress she would not recognize as anything but a web of 

chains. 

Fall 2021