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Lisa's Ritual a Poetry

Categories: ExperiencePoetry

I. The poem that I chose to write about for my assignment is “Lisa’s Ritual, Age 10″ by Grace Carolyn Bridges. The reason I chose this poem is because as soon as I read it, I immediately felt drawn to this poem, something that seems important when connecting with a piece of work. The poem appears to focus on a young girl named Lisa, and her experience with incest between herself & her father. It touches not only on that experience, but how it makes this little girl feel, and what she does after each time this happens to her.

Throughout my paper, I hope to analyze the poem, and ultimately gain a etter understanding as to what exactly the author is trying to convey through Lisa’s experience.

II. The first stanza introduces the reader to Lisa. It explains what has happened to her, and exactly what she does to help rid herself of that experience, in a manner of speaking.

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This stanza felt the most significant, because it help set the tone for the poem, allowing the reader a glimpse into what this young girl is going through. As the reader, you get a sense that this is not the first time she has gone through this, and almost seems numb to what has been happening to her. “She doesn’t cry. ” (Line 8) stands out here–it umps at the reader. It appears to emphasize the point that she is beyond crying, having gone through this before. It is not merely a sentence in the poem, but a statement, or declaration.

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The use of a period at the end of this line only further proves that this is such the case. Also, the girl in the poem isn’t speaking directly to the reader. Notice that “she” is used when describing certain thoughts like “She runs a hot bath… ” (4),

“She doesn’t cry. ” (8), “She brushes her teeth… ” (10). . The way this poem is phrased indicates that there is only one person telling a tale here. The reason I feel this is simply ecause of how personal the poem is–only someone who experienced this would be able to speak in the manner that they did, even if they are not referring to themselves as I. Another point I found interesting in the first stanza is lines 4-7. The line arrangement starts off like the previous ones, but in line 5 it begins a little farther away than the previous. It made me feel almost as if the speaker were drifting off a bit, almost becoming too tired or exhausted from the experience. I found the way the speaker used a simile “like a red dye leaking from her school dress in the washtub. ” (Lines 6-7) interesting. To e honest, it left a couple different images in my mind. The first is the obvious–the little girls red dress leaking in the laundry. This is an experience many can relate to. But the way the speaker says “like red dye leaking… ” (6) could symbolize the little girls innocence being lost. The second stanza was slightly more difficult to interpret, simply because of the way the line arrangement was.

It felt a little muddled, and that made it hard to follow. Again, the author uses similes in this stanza; “as teacher’s new chalk… ” (14), “white as a clean bedsheet. ” (15). I believe this is because of the speaker’s age, being 10 years old, it s easier to compare certain things to others that she is familiar with. Teacher’s new chalk, clean bedsheet, etc are all things a 10 year old would be familiar with, so it would be easy for them to take parts of this horrific experience & compare it to things that she knows very well, simply to convey her point. In this stanza, the reader finds the little girl cowering in her room, almost as if it is going to protect her from another attack. “… curls against it. ” (12) is a very vivid image, giving the reader a picture of her holding herself in this corner, using it’s strong foundation to be backbone, something she lacks when going hrough her ordeal with her father.

The wall is compared to the father “Smells fresh. Isn’t sweaty, hairy, doesn’t stick to skin. Doesn’t hurt much… ” (15-17). All of the images the author uses when comparing the wall doesn’t seem pleasant. Sweaty, hairy, sticking to skin–these are all things that are very much unpleasant, and only further helps the speaker convey how awful her experience has been. She is simply a child, and these traits are very unappealing to a 10 year old. And the wall is just the opposite of that (or him, rather). Strong, smells fresh, familiar, clean. While leaning against the wall, the little girl finds erself drifting away from the experience, probably because she is so worn from going through it. The wall offers her temporary protection, and for that, she seems grateful. “… falls away:” (20) “… hands lost” (21) all give an impression that she is slipping away to a place that is anywhere but where she is.

Also, “like kitchen dirt slips off the dustpan into noplace” (27-29) it shows that it doesn’t matter where she slips to, as long as it’s away from where she’s at is all that matters. The final stanza picks up right where the second left off, but it brings full circle her feelings after going through what she did. a place where nothing happens, nothing ever happened. ” ( 31-33) lets the reader know that she wishes to be somewhere that this never could have happened. This is a safe place that the little girl takes herself to, because where she is now doesn’t offer her that protection. Because of her experience, she has imagined a place where she could be safe from what her father is doing, and the only thing that helps her with that is the strength & familiarity of that wall. The author gives life to the wall, a central figure in this poem by saying “The wall is quiet, waiting. It is tall like a promise only better. ” (39-41) So powerful!

It’s as if the wall is waiting for the right moment & will one day make everything go away. The strongest line in the stanza, or poem possibly, is “… like a promise only better. ” (40-41). Does the father promise to not do this after each time it occurs? Is it a promise that he has no intention of keeping? “… tall like a promise” is a sort of comparison to a “tall-tale”, something made up. Something he is saying because it sounds nice, because she is only 10 years old. But what makes the wall better is because it would never go back on a promise. It will always be what it is–strong, and always there for her.

III. For this part, I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever been through anything like this personally, but I have met people who have gone through this. I suppose that could be what attracted me to this poem, because I somehow related the little girl’s experience to my friend’s personal experience. The author did a great job with the wording (and the manner in which it was spoken). Unfortunately, this is an experience that happens all too frequently now a days. All one has to do is simply turn on the news & you’ll find a story similar to this one. I applaud the author for this work–it was a very honest account of hat a 10 year old might be feeling after something like this happens to them. Again, I myself have never gone through this, but being a woman, I felt like a part of me went through it with Lisa. It could’ve been me, and hopefully this poem will speak to others & let them know they are not alone in what they are going through or have gone through. IV. I sincerely hope I was able to convey to you the message that the author was trying to tell. The poem took the reader through the experience that Lisa, a 10 year old little girl, has gone through after the apparent rape at the hands of her very own father.

I learned that because of something as simple as a wall, that she is able to cope with what she has gone through, simply being that the wall is always there for her and has never let her down or done her wrong. This poem was an amazing read, because I know people that have gone through this experience, and because of this poem, I am able to get a better glimpse into what they might have been thinking or feeling afterwards. I now have a greater understanding of that experience, and I hope I am able to carry that with me long after this assignment.

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Lisa's Ritual a Poetry. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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