Meg Matthias

I Close My Eyes When We Go Up the Hill

We ride the roller coasters after a four-hour drive,
putting our hands up upon reaching the summit,
smiling for the cameras
or pretending to be asleep—
we are too cool to be frightened of something so secure,
too intelligent,
too happy in our bravery to feel anything but elation//

(but when we have just been strapped into our restraints,
and the mechanical sounds of an uphill track
are grating in our feet and
in my mind
and in my stomach—)

We ride only the largest,
only the best,
and talk about branching out to metal
so our teeth won’t vibrate
and our heads won’t
crash together-
We put up our hands because
and we will proclaim it in this one single movement of triumph//

(But when the tunnels are coming closer
and closer
and enclosing us in gloom and water-slide born drips,
when it feels like we are miners underground—
and you know what happens to some miners,
don’t you?
You know that some miners never come back?)

We have sent our canaries
ahead of time,
scouting out the site through vigorous research,
crunching the numbers
and watching others embark before us,
and come back whole.
We are not afraid,
and in our genius
we have become invincible.

(But even though we are the
never-dying gods,
adding constellations to the sky left and right,
I close my eyes
so very tightly,
and I fold my arms
neatly in my lap
so I do not scrape the ceiling.)
Luck Be a Lady

We are the flappers,
Zelda Fitzgerald,
dipping our feet in the fountain,
covering our eyes,
writing vindictive poetry to cover our losses:
“I believe that is how he spells his name.”
We are the artists,
Pamela Lynn Travers,
wanting them to know that
we are more than an old lady
in a Disney studio.
We are Deborah
and the victory of the women
and the stake driven through his head—
all because of a warm glass of milk
and a vast underestimation.

But we have been told that
ART and WRITING and VICTORY (all of these in capitals, please)
are for men,
because they are the Great Americans
and we are just great women,
which cannot be half as good-
It isn’t Frost, you know.
It isn’t Steinbeck
or Hemingway
or Green.

But for all they tell us,
they do not explain
why the women-driven literary genres
needed to be saved,
why the comic book villains
are adored
and the girls who dress
a certain way
are vilified,
why the W and the O
don’t create such a cavernous gap
when they are
the last letters of