about the author

Bridget O’Bernstein is from Brooklyn where she runs a poetry reading series called Sang for Nothing. She is currently a second-year MFA candidate for poetry at Syracuse University, where she is a Poetry Editor for Salt Hill Journal. Her poems have been published in or are forthcoming in Sugar House Review, The Bennington Review, The McNeese Review, and Forklift, Ohio, among others.

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Two Poems  

Bridget O’Bernstein

When Mama & Papa & I Were Young

Bridget at 2 & ½ years old in the Cape Breton house. Bridget-before is wearing flowered leggings and picking her knees up high when she walks through the tall grass. Bridget jumping up and down in the tall grass, Bridget at play. Nova Scotia sunsets are like the open leaf of a watercolor set where someone has been playing around with strawberry & orange & white mama-yellow. Margery sits in high jeans & smokes, holding a tin ashtray, her eyes on something in the distance. Mama with her short curly haircut and big boobs reads a book like she’s sad & she’s been sad for something-ever. We’ve got bites, papa says to no one really. Papa dots pink Calamine lotion on everyone’s feet, where the bites are. Scratch around the bite, he says. Around it, Bridget echoes. It is silent and there is a shot of the beat-up kitchen window & there are pears lining the window ledge.

I Think I Hit My Orthodontist Twice

I gagged & fought the gummy pink
plastic they made me bite for the retainer cast.
It muzzled your whole mouth—wide open,
& went part way down your throat.
I began to cough & scream
into the synthetic udder-colored flesh
but the machine locked your mouth in for forty-five seconds.
No one told me what I was in for—the procedure,
which was the first problem of several problems.
I think I scratched the nurse who was named Stefanie
& was only trying to lift the metal harness
from around my scared head.

I watched someone—my mother, I think—take me home.
We didn’t speak in the white Subaru, which I’d named Dorothy.
It was at this point, I felt my life turn & come for me
because something angry seeks a home in something soft
like a child under an open beehive, looking up

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