Two Poems by Betsy Martin


We talk about nightgowns,
my best friend and I,
the cotton flannel kind our mothers gave us
every year for Christmas:
long, to the ankle,
in pastel pink or green
with delicate flowers,
the cloth soft and warm,
a lace-trimmed yoke around the neck.

About how they kept giving us these nightgowns
after we were grown adults.
About how hurt they were
when we no longer wanted them,
as if we had dumped their effigies
in flannel nightgowns
into the landfill.


The three emerge from bronze doors
ornate as the museum’s picture frames,
a couple and a single,
in coats and hats and a holiday mood.
They drift down the steps
discussing the struggles of humanity
as seen by the artist
under a grand cold winter sky
whose beautiful bruises
of brown and purple late-day clouds,
flowing, coalescing in the wind,
mimic the social clusters
floating into the street.

She of the couple,
a couple of many years,
slips her arm through the crooked elbow
of her mate as if into a drawer
where a beloved worn object is kept.
The third, a cousin,
whom romance has disappointed,
hangs back for a moment
then hooks her arm
ever so carefully
around the woman’s other arm
and they billow
into the bluing light.

Betsy Martin’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Barely South Review, Existere, Front Range Review, and Limestone Journal, among others. She has advanced degrees in Russian language and literature, and lived in Moscow studying at the Pushkin Institute during the exciting transitional period of glasnost. She enjoys birdwatching and is learning to sing.