Poetry: To Pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test by Miriam Alex
In “To Pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test,” the speaker addresses the difficult dilemma women face in the publishing world: “Tell me it is not wrong/ to speak of a pulsing artery instead of tomorrow’s/ waxing at the salon or the man who will mourn me.”
To Pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test
this conversation must only happen once. Here,
there is no man puckered at the glass. We watch
sexless fish and fishermen on the corner television.
When I trace the IV into my flesh, I do not think
of him, as he would have hoped. As you seal
the wound, you ask me to rate my pain and I lie.
There are only thirty seconds left to tell you
about all the quiet bodies you couldn’t name
in the forgotten ambulances, right outside a park
we might have walked through. My hand limps
to yours, more wounded elk than ambiguous.
Even as the medication slurs my voice, I still
have so much left to say. Tell me it is not wrong
to speak of a pulsing artery instead of tomorrow’s
waxing at the salon or the man who will mourn me.
Promise me I can sink in my own pain. The trout
on the screen gapes and you ask me if I can make out
its outline through the haze, and I nod and suck
my cheeks in. The fisherman presses a thumb
into the fish’s sides, holds it tenderly before dropping
it into the choppy waters. The fisherman calls this
benevolence. And still, the cardiograph fades.
There is nothing to stop this scene from ending.
Miriam Alex is a seventeen-year-old from southern New Hampshire. Her work is published or forthcoming in Frontier Poetry, Gigantic Sequins, Gone Lawn, and Uncanny Magazine. She is one of the 2021 Youth Poet Laureates of NH. At the moment, she is probably playing word games on her phone while rewatching her favorite sitcoms. She hopes you have a lovely day.