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My Greatest Ambition

07.18.19 Posted in today's words by

Betsy Martin’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, The Briar Cliff Review, Cloudbank, Delmarva Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly (Best of the Net nomination), Green Hills Literary Lantern, Juked, Louisville Review, The Penmen Review, Pennsylvania English, Slab, Straight Forward, Weber—The Contemporary West, Vending Machine Press, and many others. She worked for many years at Skinner House Books in Boston and has advanced degrees in Russian language and literature. She lived in Moscow studying at the Pushkin Institute during the exciting transitional period of glasnost. She enjoys birdwatching and is learning to sing.

My Greatest Ambition
By Betsy Martin

My greatest ambition this week…

I say as we walk. Dad hugs
my side.

His eyes, pools
in which we’ve been thrashing about
since I dropped out of college,
sparkle in sunlight.

Beneath the light blue surfaces,
tears flow inward.

I’m taller than he and can see
his bare scalp
with its fringe of white.

Some wear their dreams on their heads
as custom-fitted crowns—
of becoming a supreme court justice,
or at least a senator.

When the dreams expire the crown is placed
on a daughter’s head
where it doesn’t fit and weighs too much.

Her head droops.

My greatest ambition this week
is to polish my shoes,

the cordovan-colored ones with the chunky heels
that have beat with my heart,
one step, two steps, up the steep slope.

Dad’s eyes undulate
as if bubbles were rising
from the deep.

He nods and says
he might
like to polish
some of his own.

One Response to “My Greatest Ambition”

  1. Paul Strohm says:

    Thank you. I totally enjoyed this poem. Write more , please.

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