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

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.

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