Carolyn Martin is blissfully retired in Clackamas, OR, where she gardens, writes, and plays with creative friends. Her poems have appeared in publications throughout the US and UK including Antiphon, Stirring, Naugatuck River Review and Persimmon Tree. Her second collection, The Way a Woman Knows, was released by The Poetry Box, Portland, OR, in February 2015. Carolyn served as president of VoiceCatcher from 2011-2014 and was the first managing editor of its online literary/art journal and its community website.
From the Giraffe in the Lobby of a Metropolitan Hospital in Portland, Oregon
I’m stationed at the gift shop door.
They pitch me as Plush. Demure. Steady on her feet.
I tell them She eats her greens at every meal
would draw more parents in. No one’s listening.
The asking price? A nickel less
than a Benjamin—no where near my worth.
My parents in their department store
would hang their necks and blush.
I get through boring times by batting
eye-lashed eyes at gray-haired volunteers.
They help me dodge security
to elevator up to where the salad bar
is spread. I eat and don’t complain.
Know what’s astonishing?
No one’s stopped me yet—even when I cruise
into a private room to see my friend
who pats my horns and make me purr.
She commiserates about sore throats.
I cuddle with her IV pole.
When I show her how I spread my legs
to drink from standing pools
or close my nostrils for a sandy storm,
she laughs, We’re in West Hills, not West Africa!
Before I leave, I lick her brow—
careful of the stitches stretching crown to ear—
and review our nightly game. She’ll make
night nurses frown when she describes
her wild guest in plush detail.
I won’t let them see the elevator door
closing on my four-foot frame,
the lobby button lit.