The National Poetry Review

Meg Freitag


I have seen so many horrible things
In movies. Sometimes I think about
Who will die before me, what multitude
Of griefs I will have

To endure if I want to live
A long time, which I believe
I do, and I feel the weight of ten
Thousand possible futures descending on me

From the prehistoric sky. Not quite
Touching the top of my head,
But rather as if resting
On the roof of my car. I can drive

Anywhere I want,
But can’t get out. I’ve washed my hair
With water that was twenty-thousand years old.
I’ve eaten a hamburger that was made

Of dead stars, not even realizing it
At the time. I’ve said awful things to people
I’ve loved, things I would think
Impossible to say, but then there

They are, hovering in the air above me
Like soap bubbles made out of someone
Else’s skin. I’ve watched a man
Walk away from me, certain he would turn

Back around. I wasn’t calling after
Him or anything, just having a feeling so big
It seemed absurd that at least part of it
Didn’t belong to him. Outer

Space freaks me out. It’s not even
That I believe in aliens, though I do, or even
That I believe aliens are probably much smarter
Than me, but without the same understanding

Of sacredness, though I do. But really
It’s how you can travel
In a straight line for the rest of your life, never
Bumping into anything else

Ever again. I don’t know what to do
With what is happening in this world.
I get these moments of panic
That feel like they’re turning my body inside

Out, just sitting on my bedroom floor, thinking
About driving to the 7-11
To buy a bag of gummy bears
And a Vitamin Water. I’ve watched a man

On fire pull a pistol from his belt
And shoot himself in the side of the head.
I’ve watched a man cut a dolphin in half
With a machete, leave it divided in the shallow

Pink water, while he does the same thing
To another dolphin. I’ve watched
A man with eyes like goat eyes
Chew off his thumbs. I’ve watched a boy

Take his own life because he thought
His one true love was dead, but then she
Wakes up, looks around. I have seen a horse break its leg
In a race, the bone sticking

Out like a skeleton’s finger. And then someone
Came over and shot the horse, just
Like that. One of the last things we ever
Talked about, you and me, was that movie

Human Centipede. You wouldn’t stop
Calling it a masterpiece, and I was begging you
To tell me you were joking. If there’s anything
To be learned from this, maybe

It’s that sometimes death can be a way
Out. You come to an unscalable wall at the end
Of a narrow alley. There have been people
Chasing you for years. A clean little door

Drawn in chalk on the side
Of a brick building, that suddenly, somehow
Opens. Who wouldn’t step inside
That improbable jamb, lay down on the ground for a minute?

MEG FREITAG was born in Maine and currently lives in Austin, Texas. She received her MFA from UT’s Michener Center for Writers, where she was a finalist for the 2015 Keene Prize for Literature. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Boston Review, and Indiana Review, among others.