A Thank You Note by Catie Marie Martin

Dear – ,

Thank you so much for the sparkling wine glasses,
what beautiful additions to our cabinet they will make!
Thank you for the darling yellow apron, which curtails
my waistline, which kisses my kneecaps in the kitchen.

Thank you for the cantaloupe, the rounded rhododendron
of fruits. Thank you for unclaimed baggage, for forgotten
bank accounts, for the whittled souvenir badger that peers
over my dashboard. I appreciate the first draft of indigo,

the open bar, the fog machine that aggravated my asthma,
the opportunity to wear red cowboy boots. Thank you for
“Sweet Child of Mine.” Please thank your mother for “Jolene.”
I adore the barking black sky, the crestfallen bundle of balloons.

I can’t wait to attempt the Mississippi recipes, the watercress
cucumber salad, the virgin petticoat punch. Thank you for
the shrillness of the morning, the jar of salt that fosters
superstition, the cautionary tale of breaking bows at a bridal shower.

I hope you know how much the empty bottles mean to me,
the crystal shards of adolescent remembrance and common
enemies; the chalky railroad stones, the radish blossoms.
I appreciate your to-and-fro, your plus-one, the arithmetic

of a waltz, your readiness to share crossword puzzles
in Gorges State Park from the backseat. See you soon –
tell the holes in your coat pocket I said hello, and give my love
to the paper mache volcano, in spite of its refusal to erupt.

Sincerely –

 
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Catie Marie Martin is currently a student at Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BA in English from Mississippi State University, where she worked as the poetry editor for the school’s literary magazine, The Streetcar, as well as the managing editor for the student newspaper, The Reflector. Catie Marie’s poetry has previously been published in The Streetcar and in the University of Illinois’s Ninth Letter.

 

Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke.

Step Right Up, by Catie Marie Martin

Step Right Up,

We’ve got the best deals in town! I noticed you eyeing
our white wicker chairs; they’ll rock you back

to your mama’s front porch, to stray cats and Mississippi
gleam. You from out of town? Need a smaller souvenir?

What’s your favorite shape? Pulsing bulbs, aching half-moons –
we’ve got your trinkets, your anecdotes, your weapons of choice.

I can get you the hurricane at a discount, 80 mph winds
at 80 percent off! They’ll knock you straight to the ground.
Whatcha tryna destroy? You want flatland? Nuclear fission?

You want to take out Ward Street?
It’ll take that L-shaped bastard straight to hell.

Also! –

We’ve got a packet of New Hampshire quarters, in case
you’ve gotta make quick change. Right here’s a third date
oak tree, a cheeky apology, a wink, an unpaid parking ticket.

You want a tissue? No? Then I’ll take it the sight of redbuds
has never made you cry before. Jars of honey
never made your nostrils tingle? Just wait til the scent

of motel carpet fades,
til you caress nylon underwater,
til a tender minnow grazes your fingertips,
til your church’s organ mildews.

Then you’ll need a morphine drip. Then you’ll need the gospel.
Wait til your palms lose their slender, your collarbone its crevice.

Just wait til you wake, breathless, ashy against the morning.
Wait til you see another’s back against the kitchen window. Wait til

you catch the drift, feel the thrash of a bellyflop, notice
the drooping crape myrtle bleed onto hot asphalt –

then you’ll be begging me for an earthquake.

 

 

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Catie Marie Martin is currently a student at Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BA in English from Mississippi State University, where she worked as the poetry editor for the school’s literary magazine,The Streetcar, as well as the managing editor for the student newspaper, The Reflector. Catie Marie’s poetry has previously been published in The Streetcar and in the University of Illinois’s Ninth Letter.

To the Mothers at Buffalo Creek by Catie Marie Martin

On February 26, 1972, Pittston Coal Company’s coal slurry impoundment dam broke after several days of steady rain, unleashing approximately 132,000,000 gallons of black waste water. With a crest of 30 feet, the water flooded the homes of over 4,000 people and killed 125 members of the surrounding West Virginia mining community.

What does it feel like when it rains? Do you clench
your teeth, drown out the pitter-patter with the screech
of the teakettle? What does it feel like to catch your face
in a sidewalk puddle, as the gasoline swirls about your reflection
and turns your cheeks to a kaleidoscope? Are you afraid
it will swallow you up?

Surely the day will come when you no longer shy
from grocery carts, from rotisserie chicken,
from bicycles. Surely knotted necklaces will cease
to remind you of fallopian tubes. Surely tulips,
bending from their jars, will cease to remind you of the
gravitational tug of your knees to the ground.

I know the measures you have taken.
I know you cleaned your ears with sponges
after the flood pulled down your walls
like pants.

I know Russian dolls in perfect rows mock you,
with their hollow chests that are so easily filled
by one another.

So, I have to ask:
If your day will come, you,
whose bones and branches all at once
broke in two, whose backyard oak trees
turned to sand as the earth devolved and crunched
against itself, as the river browbeat your home to rubber –

Then surely I, who tapers away from windows like a curtain,
I, to whom the entire world smells like a Carolina motel
and sounds like a mistuned clarinet –
Surely I will one day dry like mildew
and unfold like cardboard. Surely I will unfurl
like ribbon and settle like stone.

 

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Catie Marie Martin is currently a student at Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BA in English from Mississippi State University, where she worked as the poetry editor for the school’s literary magazine,The Streetcar, as well as the managing editor for the student newspaper, The Reflector. Catie Marie’s poetry has previously been published in The Streetcar and in the University of Illinois’s Ninth Letter.