The women found in Suzanne Frischkorn’s Girl on a Bridge, are strong, smart, sexy, and…just a little lost. This was my initial reaction when I read Frischkorn’s second collection of poetry. When I went back through this past weekend to re-read my favorite poems, I found that I had this same reaction. Plus, I discovered that I wanted to be these women.
Frischkorn opens her book with a poem titled “Great Lash” — in many ways a poem that is the perfect prologue to this work. The girls in this poem wander cornfields that are “paved in asphalt” and walked barefoot on streets “laid with tar.” These girls, as described by a sharp decisive voice, say “We cut school and watched Foxes/We cut school and drank vodka/We cut school and got stoned/ did our makeup, walked the streets.”
What follows is a collection of women’s voices. Sometimes, these women are mothers, sometimes they are daughters. (Sometimes, they are both) Sometimes, they speak about the physical. For example, in “A Comfortable Pair of Pants” the speaker explains her pregnancy: “I knew I was having a boy/by the size of my ass–/the eager way it grew out of my pants.” She then compares her body to her days as a younger girl: “My hipbones jutted dangerous angles/when I was a girl. I spent days/in front of a mirror/thinking of ways to stop by body/from becoming a woman.” Other poems focus on the more abstract. In ”The First Signs,” for example, the persona explains that “When I was seven a wasp/landed on my lip/drawn by the sweetness/of my mother’s red lipstick” and that the same day “a child next door/squeezed six new kittens dead.” The speaker concludes that was the day she understood “There were two shades of still.”
While many of these poems offer strong commentary on women’s lives, other are softer, more contemplative of the physical world. My favorite poems are the ones that catch glimpses of our natural world in an urban setting. For instance, in “Public Transportation” the speaker sees a cornfield grow in a “yard no bigger than my bathroom.” In “When the Sun Came Out They Disappeared” the poet describes a town (through sestina form) that has disappeared ”draped in white winged moths.”
I read Frischkorn’s first book, Lit Windowpane, a few years ago and have been quietly anticipating her second collection. I was not disappointed, and while I always hesitate to compare a poet’s works, I have to confess here, that I simply liked Girl on a Bridge more. Why? I have been asking myself this question for most of the weekend. The answer is simple: in spite of the fact that the poet draws women who teeter on the edge of the domestic and the dangerous, they are women who choose not to play it safe, no matter the consequences. And, really. Deep down inside, who doesn’t want to try this balancing act in our own writing and in our own lives?
Causes Suzanne Frischkorn Supports
Girls Write Now