Hobble Creek Review
When the Angus bull lifts his big black head
and bellows into the night, Mama remembers
San Francisco foghorns.
Coyotes howl from cliffs across the river
as she teaches me to walk with a book on my head,
studying perfect posture.
Tractor dust, crankcase oil, cow manure,
bath water heated on the woodstove.
Mama sews my ruffled dresses, brushes my hair
one hundred strokes. I get chilblains
from wearing patent leather Mary Janes.
The clerks at the Mercantile
know we’re country. I see them judging
Mama’s efforts, her high heels,
her good tweed. She’s out of fashion.
I begin to want the right accessories,
the store-bought arrogance of a city girl.
I leave the farm without looking back.
Professors teach me to abhor innocence,
to mistrust nature, to rise above weather.
I wear education like a velvet cape,
swirling knowledge around my country self,
until I’m better than Mama. I let her brag
about me. I show her my new clothes.
Visiting the Cemetery in Plains, Montana
From here the rocky ridge marking the farm
slants downriver like a pasture gate standing open.
Cheat grass and knapweed tangle the graveyard edge.
Grazing mule deer flick long ears in my direction.
In the town below, prosperity has come and gone:
Granary turned to gift shop, sawmill shut down.
At my feet, the names of brother, father, mother—
three granite stories I read again and again.
Linda Martin has lived in Homer, Alaska, for the past thirty years
where, along with her husband, she operates a glass shop
(windows and doors, not decorations). Last August she graduated
from the MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University. Her work has
been published in Bloodroot, Cirque, and Rock and Sling.