For a Mother Trying to Get into College

by Rodger Martin

She slips away from the steam
and the blue glow of gas.
Away from the sink’s potatoes
and the dark, drafty windows,
away from her children
who tussle across the linoleum.
She wipes a strand of early gray
from her forehead and slowly tears
open the glued flap of the embossed
cream envelope. Correctly folded
the three-piece letter unravels itself:

“We regret to inform . . . .”

So-on slice the words.
Because she is not young
she must bear the leaded, soul tumors
that drag the chin down, down, down
into the dark, wet places and curl
against her thighs for some little warmth
to hide the pain that cannot be shared.
Universities sever by woven, water-marked bond.
They have never seen a paring knife
Sculpt apples into molded dough.
Apples are too subversive a fruit.


This poem was previously published in STET.

Rodger Martin’s third poetry volume, The Battlefield Guide, (Hobblebush) uses locations on battlefields of the Civil War to reflect upon America today. Small Press Review selected The Blue Moon Series, (Hobblebush) as a bi-monthly pick of the year. He received an Appalachia poetry award, a New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Fiction Fellowship, and fellowships from The National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been translated in On the Monadnock: New Pastoral Poetry released in China, 2007. He serves as an editor in The Granite State Poetry Series.

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