is the author of two poetry collections, Blue Positive (Steel Toe Books 2006), and What the Truth Tastes Like, winner of the William & Kingman Page poetry book award and published by Nightshade Press in 1999. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, and TriQuarterly, among others, and have been anthologized widely.
Martha is a Seattle Arts Commission grant recipient and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart prize. She’s been awarded residences at the Millay Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Arizona Poetry Center, and she recently spent eight months as the recipient of the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency. Martha teaches at Edmonds and Bellevue Community Colleges. Website.
—Back to Work Poetry Contents—
Like lifting the dishes from the sink:
peppered, toast-flake flecked,
pickle-juiced, maple syrup-ed.
Opening the dishwasher door,
pulling out the rack that always
gets off track. Like picking out
turds and dead crickets
from the leopard gecko tank.
Like you have to smooth out
the wrinkly place mats,
so the plates will sit just right.
Like you need to find the match
to your daughter’s lavender sock.
Like it all needs to be folded,
put in drawers, and then you have to
scrub the toilets, the hairy sinks,
and then you have to wheel
the kid’s red bike back to its place
along the garage. No one can stop you
from buying a wicker basket
to fill with rattles, the squeaky frog;
no one a wet-wipe to lift the dust
from the clock, the lamp by the bed.
It has to be done. It must.
Autumn with Two Under Five
For that time, I was pressed up close
to the cosmos, to the cosmos
and to the dust, the dust beneath
the changing table, the hordes of crumbs
in the vents. For that time infinity
pressed against me like pins.
During that time I tried my best
to act as if it didn’t concern me
that a certain whale died out
fifty-five million years ago.
During that time I watched the fur seal twirl
in its vertical tank. Pressed up close,
too close, to the cosmos, I drank
my cola, ate my chocolate to stay awake.
In the morning I showered, lifted
the mug to my lips, through it all the cosmos
against me like a film of grease,
a gut-wrenching wind against glass.