How to Triumph Like a Girl (From Ada Limón’s “Bright Dead Things”)

A fiery poem from the collection Bright Dead Things (2015) by the American poet Ada Limón. It translates the confidence and grit of 21st-century feminism into impressive animal and anatomical figures of speech.

How to Triumph Like a Girl

I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let’s be honest, I like

Bright Dead Things: Poems by Ada Limon (2015, Milkweed Editions)

that they’re ladies. As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.
Don’t you want to believe it?
Don’t you want to tug my shirt and see
the huge beating genius machine
that thinks, no, it knows,
it’s going to come in first.


Bright Dead Things in its totality examines “the chaos that is life” and articulates the search we undertake to find something that is ultimately “disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.”

Other books from Milkweed Editions on this blog: Adventures in the Anthropocene by Gaia Vince.