Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oh, Martha!

I feel compelled to put an asterisk beside this one and say that the "you" is not meant to be Jesus, although the story of Mary and Martha did spark the poem. While listening in church, I kept thinking that I know the better part, I just can't do it. I'm Martha through and through. (Working on the resentment thing, though. I promise.)

AND...I considered passing this off as an official Poetry Bus poem for the week, but I'm far too superstitious for that. The Puritans did a job on my head, apparently. You know, Sinners in the Hands, and all that. You might want to go to Rachel's place for this week's riders. Meanwhile, I'm counting on God's keeping his/her sense of humor!  ;-)


They tell me it's the better part.
     We're not supposed to think,
           Just sit there at your feet,

But try as I might, I can't
     Make my hair ripple
          Waves of welcome.

No, look hard enough,
     And you'll find me 
          Beside an open door;

I'm sneaking a smoke
     And thinking about the weather
          And what they'll want to eat.

I'm waiting for the microwave to beep.


  1. Dear Poet Karen, sorry I've been distant lately,

    martha and mary, I love this biblical story, and I hate the concept of housewife, and roles or expectations in traditional homes.

    Did you know, more than once recently, I heard a woman say men want to be married to their mother (in any marriage, projection of those roles does occur, but....WANT TO?)

    good poem, btw my 2 teenage boys are competatively baking birthday cakes for MY friend as I write this.

  2. Oh this is so beautiful... a part of everyday life , apparently so unspecial, becomes a work of art through your poem.

    nice Sunday!

  3. I'm a Martha too - & I decided that it's not really that bad of a place to be. SOMEBODY has got to get all that work done LOL.

  4. Hello Karen, Martha here. Perfectly done, and oh, parties I hold are my worst. I actually resent having to talk to anyone when I could be getting more food and drink ready/introducing someone to someone else/checking all the children are playing together and that no one is left out etc.

    I'm pretty sure this does count as a Bus one.
    I shall quote the sage Rachel:
    "think of a character (or series of characters) from a children's story, comic, TV series, film or other story source (it can be a new story or something quite ancient)."

  5. Many men want to be married to a mother AND Venus, and they want one who will OBEY, unless they want to be controlled because some do.

    This is all assuming they have not yet awakened.

    Toeing The Line

    When I met you it
    was in mirth and smiles and jokes
    we told each other,
    told the others too.
    We found our comfort in light.
    I brought you into
    me and laid you down
    and it got all warm and true
    and the least I meant
    was to have you toe
    some damn stupid line for me.

    I saw your hurt toes
    anyway, my love.

  6. That is a little cracker - can't think what you were worried about, unless it be they old puritans. That I can understand. Difficult to wash them out of your hair, eh?

  7. I can relate to hanging out in that doorway.

  8. You can be the brother because I will always be the prodigal son. Though we all choose what we do with the role we have taken upon us.

  9. Beautifully written! "can't make my hair ripple waves of welcome" is perfection. I am neither of these sisters for you will find me in a comfy corner of the sofa reading and wondering why I should bother to disturb the perfectly distributed dust on my coffee table.

  10. I didn't have the right hair and I couldn't sit still and I was always gazing out the window and not concetrating on the IMPORTANT person...may as well leave them all to get on with it!!

  11. Karen, you always come up with the most awesome themes and ways of telling a poetic story.
    Beautiful poem. I love the touch of humor, though the subject is deep. Even though the "you" is not Jesus, the parallel of the story of Martha and Mary is lovely.

    Now I'm trying to figure out which one I would be. Hmmm... Probably Martha, too. My relatives would say I'm Mary, because I don't do the bustle around the kitchen thing when we get together. All those women make me nervous. It's more fun to sneak a bourbon with the men on the porch. But I work like a beast of burden every other day, so yeah. Martha. God bless her heart.

  12. Dianne - My poor husband! If he wanted his mother, I'm afraid he's been sadly disappointed! Good for your boys -- and for you on rearing them outside those expectations.

    TFE - Thankee, friend!

    Dulce - I'd bet the priest wouldn't be too pleased to hear this! Somehow, I don't think it's what he had in mind for that Sunday sermon!

    The Bug - I think some of us are just BORN Marthas. I'm like you, though, just can't not be one.

    Titus - Does anyone but me think of Martha Stewart? She's aptly name, I think, except of course, when she spent time in the big house. Even then, she knitted ponchos for the other inmates. Once a Martha, always a Martha!

  13. Christopher - Mother and Venus AND obedience? Obedience lay down her yoke and died, I think. Venus? She's out chasing her own desires, and Mother is in the kitchen. The Martha!

    Thanks for dropping your lines here. Good one!

    Dave - As I said, let's hope God has a sense of humor. I live, by the way, in what I commonly refer to as the buckle of the Bible Belt! I'd be damned by some of my neighbors for this, believe it or not.

    Jason - I don't smoke, but it sounds inviting. Share one?

    TWM - Gar! I hate it when someone pegs me so well. I am the brother. Crap.

    Muse Swings - I have my days, but responsibility always wins. I want indolence to reign! I vote for that (and envy you).

    Gerry - Time to make a run for it. The door's open!

    Julie - I envy you your bourbon times. I'm in the kitchen - Head Martha! But I understand that beast of burden stuff in other ways, too. That makes you a Martha without Parties! No Martha Stewart, you! ;-)

  14. I'm Martha and so is my wife. Yes, definitely relate to this one!

  15. Sneaking a smoke indeed! me too- sitting by an open door- oh yes, keep our options open...

  16. wow - so much in these few lines - packed with brilliance. i love the tone - neither bitter nor apologetic, just matter-of-fact - and "I'm waiting for the microwave to beep." slings it home with a perfect little barb of satire, i think.

    what's funny about that story is that the only person asking for anything is martha - and it seems she's the only one giving mary flak for not being in the kitchen. i think sometimes we let what we do define us too much - or we get so caught up in responsibility we miss relationship. in that sense, i'm probably too much martha too. not that there's a good part/bad part - just a good part/better part.

    (and i think god has a great sense of humor. how else can one explain the platypus?)

  17. Peter - You two must get a lot done at home! At least there's no one for you to resent!

    izzy - absolutely! Got a fag?

    joaquin - You're so right about allowing what we do to define us. I am really bad about that. I keep telling myself that my job is what I do, not who I am. As many times as I tell myself that, though, I still define myself by how much or whether or not I accomplish something. Oh, well. At least I recognize it. I even think I know why I'm like that, but it doesn't change the bottom line. I'm waiting for the microwave to beep!

    Love the line about the platypus. You have a point there!

  18. That has got to be one of my favorite last lines of yours, or anyone's. Brilliant, Karen.

    I, too, loved the open acknowledgment of this one. The honest, wry voice. Awareness can fall plenty short of the ability to do anything about it. And really--is that dinner going to cook itself?!

    I've been away too long (again). But I really enjoyed this one and am glad to be back! :)

  19. Karen, the intelligence here is crackling and complex. I, too, think that last line is superb. You finished it with such poetic flair!

  20. I like it! I too get little shivers when approaching or trying to handle characters from the bible (those pesjy puritans, again, I'm afraid). I rally identify with Martha though and would join her out the back if I smoked.

  21. Sarah - Thanks. I've been Martha my whole life. It is what it is, so why fight it? I'm glad to see you back, too. I hope the novel is coming along.

    Kay - Thank you!

    Argent - Yes, I think I'll have some explaining to do! :-)

  22. Karen I just love what you did with pastor was just talking about that story in the bible and i was wanted to write something about it...i to am too much a Martha....i am working on that as well! Lovely poem! :-)