I wonder sometimes if the conspicuous brilliance of Brianna’s work is so conspicuous to me because I was lucky enough to be her friend. But then I remember it was her writing I was first friends with. It immediately seduced and impressed me, whereas Brianna, tough as nails and intimidatingly clever, took me longer to cozy up to, and commendably, there were no shortcuts to Brianna’s heart.
To honor her personality, I think first of her wit, honesty, and intense love for her friends, those lucky chosen ones.
To honor her work, I think first of her masterful use of sound and cadence. Poems like “When I Was Thoreau in the Morning” and “Vaquera Song” feel like one sentence, one breath. Her poems can read a bit like puzzles or riddles. I like to think of her as a kind of sphinx, cryptic, sly, formidable. She is interested in the unreality of the body and its humors. She is interested in femininity, the insult it can be to the self, the con it can be on the beholder. She writes with expedited visceral power, and it was a great privilege to bear witness to the evolution of her style and the fruition of these works.
— Caroline Zimmer Rowe ’14
The new dishwasher purrs low, a quiet, preferable machine running on Light. The baby’s been put down. Outside, the street’s soundless, like the night’s sneaking by to meet someone he shouldn’t be; even the cars are hushed tonight, no thudding bass, headlights slither across the back wall, mute. I wait and count each minute’s seconds, cultivating everything I’ll say. Inside my head, another motorcycle accident. Do I ask what kept you: how was your day? No. Touch your living shoulders. It can wait.
Cowgirl mooning for the cow peeled back and sifted through, undone and sung in the butter crust. Though the best crusts are baked with lard, she knows. Some nights she snuck out back to wind that heifer in guilty songs ‘til milking time. For what? In the end she’ll gore the hogs instead, and bent inside and between his ribs will dream of gorging on whipping cream.
for Larry Breaux Ancient scar; ragged hook to the eye, dragging down a bright blue so clear it’s like the world compressed to a pearl in the mouth of a mine: all earthly antagonisms are burnt out by the space between he and me and the weight of his clear, improbable sky. When my father laughs he squints and I’m rocked straight out: I’ll never understand him. His essence is all he, like his stone, like his sea. and his scar, that bracelet of teeth looped around his eye, magic hook through magic fish-belly, is all I have of his history: his grace is that he’s here right now; He exists for me as he is to me.
Assume the Gulf’s wide mouth, a sharp outcrop of rock licked with sea-slicked lichen. Assume: alone, dawn. I beat my bones on the sand and run, tight-skinned, not she but all body and all outside, all hoping animal. A mile out, I swim to the rocks and out stretch across the water, stretch out and sun salute. From the jetty just opposite a fisherman also alone, youngish in his body’s sunrise sees and wades waist deep to ask for bait. Closer, we each see clearly: he almost all bird, arms held up to still smoke in the high tide. I answer. Assume damp flannel, conscious skin-tight cling: none and sorry, and assume, so saying tamely, she.