Betsy Martin


Twigs and Dried-Up Grasses | Lightning the Way | Archeology | To Missoula

Twigs and Dried-Up Grasses

In the dream, I visited my gynecologist
for my annual exam.

She reached up into me,
nodded knowingly,
and pulled out a Y-shaped umber bundle
of twigs and dried-up grasses.

I thought it must be my uterus,
my sixty-five-year-old uterus,
and I experienced a wave of relief
such as plants do at the end of autumn
when they brown and wilt
to prepare for the dormant season.

This was my dream.
I report it to you faithfully
as hope for us all,
and even men.

Perceptions Magazine, 2022

Lightning the Way

A storm is promised
over the trees, beyond
the pond.

The others—the dog walkers
and baby-carriage pushers, the runners and strollers—
have in one current turned around
and flow against me.

At the pond the wind
makes gray goosebumps
that skim the skin of the water.
The birches swish frothily.

There’s someone ahead of me,
another lover of lightning,

attired well for a late afternoon walk
in tan slacks and a black blouse
and bent forward at the waist as elders often are
after a lifetime of fighting the wind.

She limps a little
and hews the middle of the road,
going right for the heart of it,

so near us now,
a bolt almost pierces its boom.

I’m blown off onto a side street.
The last I see of my new friend,
she’s going calmly forward.

The Phoenix Soul, November 2022


I was on a dig one summer
deep decades ago, in the Virginia countryside.

The fragments are dazed
but I had a friend
and we drove into town
one loamy evening and found

a hole in the wall
from which came slivers
of orange twang
country western,
we danced joyously
as they did in the Copper Age
and shook the bottles on the shelves

then lay on our bellies
next to the pit,
faces flush with the soil, in a ritual
of laughing and looking
into the origin and destination.

Later, he sent me love letters I never

It wasn’t love, but shards
of glass I was scattering to be buried—
to develop a patina,
an iridescent patina over time.

The MacGuffin, Fall 2022

To Missoula

The cold air her pillow of courage, she skirts
the northern rim of the nation.

As she crosses the Dakota Badlands,
where even the hardiest grasses quiver

before earth’s uprisings and revolutions,
her eastern forest home has tilted

and is sliding over the rim!

She pulls her wings in closer
to fly fast and low

over layers of pink and gray guts
squeezed from deep under.

A tail feather tears loose,

whirls away;

she almost bursts into a plume of magma.

Night cools into dawn.

She parks the car,
steps out into a new world,
a young woman with compass and camera
and a crown of mountains.

Wrath-Bearing Tree, January 2022