"Mother's Maiden Name"

"Mother's Maiden Name"

"Mother's Maiden Name"

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
July 25 2006 6:30 AM

"Mother's Maiden Name"

Click here to listen to Martha Greenwald read this poem.

Understand the terms, dearest customer: Before beginning any transaction, we must Margin your debt with memory. Calculate 3.3% of a snow day, the house sour-sweet, Vermouth eluding the dark, mildewed ducts. Upon approval, wander up to their bedroom. Check the street. Father has veered downhill To examine a patient's ice-scratched cornea, His fishtail tracks already filled. For balance Transfers, open the emerald-lined lingerie Drawer of her teak bureau—garter buckles, Hippie beads, packets of envelopes addressed To her childhood Queens address. Restrictions May apply but extract the letters, deciphering The varied crabbed hands of college boyfriends ... Rosenberg Rosenberg what you read is lewd. From his Bangladesh cubicle, an account rep, Skewing a New York idiom, makes you spell, Pronounce, spell, so the name becomes its own Unknown language. Omit your guarded jokes; Bad habits and insolvency always fail to amuse. You are the sole beneficiary to White Shoulders Rising from the boning of a long-line brassiere. Please note: at dusk, all grace periods expire; Thus, winter interest fees will continue to accrue.

Martha Greenwald's poems have appeared in the Threepenny Review, Poetry, Shenandoah, and the Notre Dame Review. A former Stegner Fellow, she was the winner of the 2005 Dogwood Prize for Poetry.