Reading Hermione Lee

Brittany Cavallaro

That was the summer of biographies. The living

I did it headlong but with an eye back. Pinpricks

welled up, the cloth too close, and the fear of going

there again became its own conveyance. Read

of Woolf and her rest cures, marmosets, her dresses bad

but her beautiful in them. I rode in his convertible, my scarf in a knot

across my throat. Ignored the coast. I watched

for brake lights, kept a hand there just in case. The critics complained

that the I was over-present, but that was because the I

was my gift. A self I could craft that obeyed

my dictation. Wharton in a corset, not allowed novels until after

she married, and with every text

from my ex I felt I had to show someone. Just in case. Keep

the records. Cather made it look natural. When I loved again

it wasn’t in private. What chapters felt dangerous? All of them.

Brittany Cavallaro is the author of the poetry collections Girl-King and Unhistorical, both from University of Akron Press. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, AGNI, Southern Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. She lives in Michigan.
Originally published:
December 21, 2022

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