Issue X, Volume IV : June 2013
Martha Rhodes is the author of three poetry collections, At the Gate, Perfect Disappearance, and Mother Quiet and has published her poems widely. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She is a founding editor and the director of Four Way Books. She lives in New York City.
He lived against and through us, as a trickle
eroding a thick cloister wall. We weren’t strong
enough, though we were too many to name, too
weak alone and together. He saw the corn crops
as growing just for him. We, too, witnessed
the ripening of our orchards as he approached,
the withering at his departures. Finally, depletion.
The great embarrassment of having given so much.
Now we heed the bright teeth of his dogs. Stay down
in your own rubble. Who will listen to you anyway?
He performed no tricks. You saw what you got.
Anyway, he’s gone now, left you., moved forward
toward others so count yourselves blessed.
Those who want, can recover yourselves.
The river sludge hardens and cracks.
We pitch our tents in mile-long rows.
Branches, leaves, fox and deer tracks.
A few puddles pool, but there’s little flow.
We’re camped above, too tired to press
one more step; we sleep in fits—
the gnats, the howlings, the mess
of our lives bright in our eyes, lit
before us, our handmade disasters.
This town’s been claimed by the ridiculous--
by the should have known betters
who assign us our lots, who welcome us
here; we deserve this rot so we roll in it
and thrive in it and in turn welcome those
who follow us. You need a bed? Sit
with us, friends. Here the road stops, goes
nowhere. Dead end.