Daisy Bassen

Madame Bovary, c’est moi
January 20, 2023 Bassen Daisy

Madame Bovary, c’est moi


If we were all as kind to each other
As novelists are to their main character,
Even when they write an anti-hero,
Somewhere, they have stocked his medicine
Cabinet with ibuprofen and there’s a fresh cake
Of hand-milled soap in the shower caddy; they forgive
The heroine’s bad breath, contempts, her crankiness
Even when she doesn’t have period cramps
As a justification and there is a decent chance
She’ll be given 87% dark chocolate or a hot water bottle,
A second bladder in a tea-cozy. Missing the train,
Missing the bus, the empty light coming on
All get to mean something validating,
That green gleaming West Eggy E on the dash
Like Hester’s A; don’t you get it, she needs
To be fulfilled, full and filled, extra extra, it’s a metaphor
Designed for the reading club questions at the end
Which are supposed to be generous and spark
Discussion like the flint lighter in 10th grade chem
That caught again and again like a cough,
Not a catarrh; the questions are intended to teach
The readers to think deeply, as if they aren’t drinking
A mediocre red wine from a box, wanting it to count
That they’re engaging. If we all took into consideration
Point-of-view and the hero’s journey, foils,
Foibles discarded through the second round of edits
And then put back in, unkilled darlings, a knitter
Using the same ball of yarn in endless, throttling scarves,
The other nameless characters who don’t even get described,
The man with a face like a snapping turtle still there
In the next lane.




You’re waiting now, you expected me
To draw a conclusion. How else might the poem have ended?


Daisy Bassen is a poet and community child psychiatrist who graduated from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, McSweeney’s, Smartish Pace, and [PANK] as well as multiple other journals. She was the winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest, the 2019 ILDS White Mice Contest and the 2020 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. She was doubly nominated for the 2019 and 2021 Best of the Net Anthology and for a 2019 and 2020 Pushcart Prize. Born and raised in New York, she lives in Rhode Island with her family.