Today we present a poem from Martha Rhodes, which is to say that you will read the work of one of poetry’s most esteemed polymaths. Martha Rhodes is the Director and Founding Editor of Four Way Books, a not-for-profit literary press that is more sanctuary than anything else. Emerging and established poets and writers of prose have found nurturing under the Four Way imprint since 1995. It is a gentle powerhouse in publishing, and Martha is looked to for its energy and focus.
Read her biography below to learn more about her busy life, but first read of a wish she shares with so many of us.
THE JADE PLANT
I want to go to the room
where the jade plant thrives
on the white pine floor. I want
to sit next to the plant all day
against the white plaster wall.
I want the room available all days
and evenings, it just one of the several
in my house arranged by me
for peaceful times. I want to go
to the room now though it does not exist
in my life yet. It is several hundred miles away
in a small town cottage by the river.
A friend who knows me best might say,
I can see you in this house with its contained yard.
I sit in the white room often. The plant
is old and thick. Its leaves are shiny deep green.
My sister arrives soon from Maine
and I’ll give her this room for the week,
the jade, actually, our mother’s—
what she last bought the eve she lost
all memory of what it is to buy something,
to recognize what it is you want, to point
to it and say, That should be mine now.
And then it is.
“The Jade Plant,” from THE BEDS (c) 2012 by Martha Rhodes. Reprinted with permission of Autumn House Press. All rights reserved.
Martha Rhodes is a poet, teacher, and publisher. She is author of four poetry collections, most recently The Beds (Autumn House Press, 2012) and Mother Quiet (Zoo Press, 2004. Her second collection, Perfect Disappearance, won the 2000 Green Rose Prize She has published poems in many literary journals and anthologies She currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and at the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers and directs the Conference on Poetry at The Frost Place. She is a founding editor and the director of Four Way Books, a literary press in New York City, where she lives with her husband.