Standing As Instructed


My mother still

under her sky-blue shroud,

with her head turned to the side.

I lie down beside her.


With my face close to hers,

hers unstirring,

I take her face in my hands.

Her cheeks, two peaches

left on the ground

after the frost,

grow warm and her eyes

open—her blue-green eyes

so rich with enigma.

She smiles

and the dew

of her single breath

awakens the closeness

we never had

and that I find

only in a poem.


My mother still

under her sky-blue shroud.

I stand

ten feet away,

as the funeral director

has instructed,

for reasons of sanitation.



Summer Vacation In Europe


Light glints off

my father’s ivory suit

in pointed rays like swords

that outshine even

the intense summer sun.


Thus armed, he orders

the day’s essentials

from restaurants, hotels.

I long for his gleam.


My mother’s is hazy,


as she explicates

walls of paintings and frescoes

in every museum and church.

I linger behind,


a reluctant tourist

in the dappled region

of age fourteen,

where, as in the arched womb

of a huge cathedral,

the perpetual dawn or twilight

smells of stone and mystery,

and glimmers flutter

high above

like white birds

caught under the ceiling.


by Betsy Martin

Betsy Martin works at Skinner House Books in Boston. She studied at Harvard University, where she earned an AB in English and American literature; the Pushkin Institute in Moscow and the Middlebury Russian School, where she graduated with an MA in Russian language; and Brown University, where she received an MA in Russian literature. When Betsy happens by a window in her busy schedule, she enjoys bird watching with her husband and playing the piano. Betsy’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Alembic, Assisi Journal, Barely South Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly (Best of the Net nomination), Existere, Front Range Review, Gemini Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Helix, Limestone Journal, Louisville Review, Magnapoets, Minetta Review, Organs of Vision and Speech, Pirene’s Fountain, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, and Weber—The Contemporary West.



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