Like almost all of Richard Brautigan’s poems, “I Lie Here in a Strange Girl’s Apartment” is short (three stanzas, fourteen lines) and written in free verse. The title, which is also the first line, not only provides the setting of the poem but also suggests the dynamic that is the subject of the narrator’s meditation: the narrator as he sees himself in uncomfortable relation to this “strange” woman. The language of the poem, characteristic of Brautigan’s style, is colloquial and deceptively direct—though the final stanza makes it clear that the author’s appreciation of the abstract and surreal should not be underestimated, as it tends to vastly complicate otherwise simple images.
The structure of the poem appeals to a kind of minimalism that introduces only what is necessary in order for the payload of the poet’s meaning to be delivered to the reader in the most direct, significant, and unburdened fashion. In the first stanza, the narrator presents himself as a man lying (presumably in bed) in the apartment of a woman who is “unhappy.” As he watches her move “about the place,” he reveals that she has both a sunburn and a poison oak rash. The curious similarity between these two ailments makes it unclear whether she is unhappy because she is afflicted with this double irritation or whether her unhappiness is being characterized by Brautigan’s use of the metaphor of the skin conditions. She is clearly uncomfortable. Her...
(The entire section is 511 words.)