Jerrell, Carrie

United States, (b. 1976)

Pig Wrestling

  1. Well-greased and terrified, it screeches its way
  2. into the pen where we four high-school girls,
  3. last year’s division champs, anticipate
  4. its first evasive move. It barrels left,
  5. zig-zagging right between us while we slog
  6. barefoot, our jeans rolled to the knees, through the muck
  7. three inches deep. The crowd shouts strategies
  8. as we close in, the pig prepares to dodge
  9. us like a cornered memory that’s stuck
  10. somewhere between forbidden and forgotten.
  11. We spring together, struggle to subdue
  12. it, stop its squealing, feel its slimy skin
  13. beneath us — muscles twitching. When the bell calls time,
  14. it twists off in escape, just like those thoughts
  15. that bolt away after their capture, more
  16. alive than when you pinned them for the count.

© Carrie Jerrell
Measure. University of Evansville Press, 2006.

Editor’s Note:

In the poem, Jerrell describes her experiences as part of a very successful pig wrestling team and the fun she had participating in local fairs with her friends in her hometown of Petersburg, Indiana. Though the poem is about Jerrell’s memories of the fair, it also expresses the human struggle to save memories or thoughts of the past from being slowly erased by time.

“The poem is about things you try to capture but can’t quite get a grip on, like thoughts or memories,” Jerrell has said. “You can kind of grasp a shadow of it, but then it slips away. Through my poems, I try to answer the questions that we all have about life.”

This poem is also discussed in the blog entry Memory Hogs.

About the Poet

Carrie Jerrell, (b. 1976), United States poet, received her M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in 2004 and is currently completing her Ph.D. in English as a Chancellor’s Fellow at Texas Tech University.

A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, including for Pig Wrestling, she has also served as the poetry editor for Iron Horse Literary Review.

Carrie Jerrell’s debut collection, After the Revival, received the 2008 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Waywiser Press. In the fall of 2009, she will join the faculty at Murray State University as an assistant professor of English. [DES-7/09]

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