Poetry: Clare L. Martin



I read your scar with my fingers
and take crushed ice
into my mouth

from a plastic cup
which has in it
the aroma of coffee.

My breasts are at their fullest
it seems, and more tender;
painful when my gown grazes

my nipples or when you’ve
pinched them softly. You say
how I seem a woman: full,

rounded. That we could sprawl
across this day; languishing in the white
sun of the room, that it could be

hours before he is born
but the nurse rushes in
because the fetal heart monitor

screams. And the doctor flies too
to pierce a hole in the universe.
Water flushes out, and skin and bones.

Someone in blue
sews the stitches but I don’t
feel anything except cool blood or,

urine or iodine splashing
on my inner thigh. The old nurse
cannot unravel our weeping.

They wheel me out.
Our home is a frazzle
of livewires,

explosive mines
disguised as Teddy bears,
blue blankets and tiny, soft socks.

Make a New Garden

Make a new garden; till it well. Bury there what you want to grow. The green stems will uncoil and tiny plastic leaves will flap. Tend the buds and give them drink. Once in winter I fell, drunk, in a drizzle specked with sleet. I wandered sightless until a neighbor heard my shuffling, saw my breath clouding the lit night–

Sometimes people are like that. They will give you soup and a towel for your head. Sometimes they have no truths that would acquit you.

The Never That Was

I have not one picture
of us taken in Barcelona,

or Carcassonne; none
from the Mediterranean

summer when you rubbed
my bare skin with creams,

carefully around the areolas
so they would not burn,

or of you in the morning
laughing and gesturing

with the old French couple
standing in the sea casting nets.

And at dusk you fed me summer
fruit with your woodsman fingers,

and we drank wine as though
we’d stolen into a still life.

I close my eyes and see you
leaning pose-like,

pressing a calloused palm
on the stone of the cathedral.

In sun-filled rooms,
beneath cool sheets,

we aligned our naked bodies.
‘Blackbird fly blackbird fly’

you sang until I fell asleep–
We met for the first time

the following spring.
This is verifiable.

That you were always with me
is truth, as well.

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