Don’t Let Me Down

Sarah Trudgeon

My husband says he doesn’t really like
short stories, says only novels
capture the human experience.
But he does not mean
how in novels you always learn
about the people’s childhoods,
even though you do.
He is writing a book about
how he became a writer.
It’s a gambit. So he asked
if I had a formative narrative
about myself as a writer.
But, what? I don’t think I do.
He does. The clouds
look awfully large today
and awfully low—
white, bright, but somehow menacing.
Our toddler woke the other night
and when I went to check
on him he just whispered sadly,
“He got me.” He often dreams
of tigers, then last night I
dreamed of a tiger.
It was standing on a lake
lapping water the way
they do in documentaries
and then it chased me down a street
in my own neighborhood—
where I live now, anyway.
I did not grow up in a neighborhood.
“A road with a gas station”
is the joke I make
for the East Coast elites
with whom I now associate.
Similarly, I can never believe
my husband really loves me,
even though he does.
His novel got translated
into Chinese. “I had a dream last night
I was some kind of god, I think,”
is what he said to me
this morning. In mine
I paid a woman seven dollars
for a donut, and then there was the tiger.
I woke up when he got me.

Sarah Trudgeon is the author of the chapbooks Dreams of Unhappiness and The Plot Against the Baby. She is the director of education for the writers’ residency and public humanities project The Mastheads.
Originally published:
January 1, 2020


Louise Glück’s Late Style

The fabular turn in the poet’s last three books
Teju Cole

The Critic as Friend

The challenge of reading generously
Merve Emre

Rachel Cusk

The novelist on the “feminine non-state of non-being”
Merve Emre


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.