THREE POEMS BY MARTHA RHODES
Our Bedroom Wall
Why do I always let you die,
not lifting you from bed, just watching you
lie breathless as your spirit
dangles from our bedroom wall
till it gives up and it’s dead too.
Poof, I dream, no more you.
Why do I sit in our quiet room,
wet from the shower, while our cats
lick my legs dry and the morning light
throws our neighbor out of his bath
and onto our wall. Smash that man,
he’s dead too. You see,
it’s not just you.
Even people I’ve never held
fall ill or drown or fold in half.
My red sad dreams cover our wall,
dreams that kill us all.
Into the Fens
My mother at the kitchen sink
My father at the goldfish tank
My sister in the treehouse roof
winking at the neighbor’s boy
My cat and I go hunting for gnats
into the fens clucking our tongues
My mother boils the freezer’s ice
My father hangs his shoes to dry
My sister’s outside playing mouse
with the neighbor’s oldest boy
We’re licking our jaws
dry as a squeak
My sister swallows the neighbor’s boy
My father plasters the treehouse shut
My mother unmakes all the beds
folding herself into the sheets
Telling Mother about My Troubled Marriage
How I fell off my bike when I was five
is obvious. I wasn’t looking.
Neither were you. We’d just minutes before
taken my training wheels off and this first ride
cost me three teeth two years early.
When my chin exploded on the stone wall,
you were out cold in your bedroom, leaving me
to pull the forsythia branch out of my arm.
Now you’re telling me, Honey
there are worse things than being hurt.
Being dead is one, you say,
you who’ve never seen your daughter bleed.
from At the Gate, Provincetown Arts Press, 1995