A permanent home and museum for poets and poetry

Poems by Martha Rhodes

Return to Martha Rhodes

[accordion] [acc_item title=”Elegy“]

By Martha Rhodes

My body given away, parts
flown to other parts—a child
receives my eyes, another
my heart, the diseased organs
remain, benign now.
In death I am waiting
for my soul to arrive
that I may divide it equally
among frightened neighbors.
In death I pursue a man
younger than my father
ever was in my life.
In death I am a mother
who disowns her children
in a market parking lot.
In death a ghost lies
under me, pregnant. In death
I unbury myself and try
to extract my soul surgically;
it will not release, will not;
I discover there is no one else
this soul wishes to be.


From Perfect Disappearance © 2000 Martha Rhodes. Reprinted with permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.

[/acc_item] [accordion] [acc_item title=”Ascension“]

By Martha Rhodes

Rose, the mother,
as her child rose,
up into the trees,
with her shattered child.

In her arms, the bifurcated child.
“Don’t go, don’t go,” cries
of the husband. “Don’t
Leave me. I can’t bear it,”

though surely he could
come if he wanted,
she thought, he could
will himself up, up, to join

them, his small family.
John! But there he stands,
smaller and smaller. “Look
darling child, there’s your father.

Now shut your eyes and forget him.”

Originally published in Provincetown Arts Magazine

[/acc_item] [acc_item title=”It Is the Horse“]

By Martha Rhodes

It is the horse in her he fears,
her eyes, large and rolling,
the yellow crunch of her molars,
and her heavy foot aimed at him.
He hears her in the stall of night
approach, the other animals scatter,

as does the dry dirt of the path,
and the pebbles at his feet
as he moves aside, as if to invite her
to enter into the event horizon itself.
He sees all her parts stretch out,
a string speeding forward yet still,

next to him, suspended in the cessation
of time, the galloping fury of her finally
arrested so that now his sleep markedly
quiets enough for the shift of his breathing
to stir her. She licks his salty spine—
he is calm, now–pats his damp mane,

Wake little horsey.

[/acc_item] [acc_item title=”It being forbidden“]

By Martha Rhodes

to excuse oneself from table
before each morsel is chewed and swallowed;
it being forbidden to laugh
unless he conducts, pitch and duration,
his arms raised, our sisterly heads shamed
downward; it being forbidden
to invite another to that table who dares
to be more handsome and charming than he.

It being commanded to worship
that occupier of the armed-chair,
carver of pheasants, rabbinic imposter,
tweed-suited weekend gardener,
peddler of diamonds to the ghetto

and we do worship him
for plentiful is his table,
joyous the summer camps,
vast the Canadian forests,
the Caribbean Sea.

He who orchestrates with knife and fork
pulls us to our knees
and we pray with him who whispers
do you love me
and we cry with him who whimpers
no one loves me
and we kiss him on his temple
no one touches me
and we remain in his house
longer than we ought, for he prophesies
even you shall leave me
and when we do leave him, as we must,
we transplant lilacs and peonies from his garden
to ours so that he shall bloom
beneath our windows.

Reprinted from Perfect Disappearance by Martha Rhodes © 2000 with permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.

[/acc_item] [/accordion]


[divider scroll_text=”BACK TO TOP”]