Origin Stories – Martha Bordwell

Origin Stories
    Our Path
    by Martha Bordwell

    Let’s uncoil our summer of love, 
    when you taught me to detassle corn.
    I followed behind,
    distracted by your shoulders and swagger.
    When you turned around, your voice rumbled,
    your eyes were an invitation.

    Remember the raspberries you tended
    in that garden as big as our house?
    Each bush fat with ruby fruit.
    So many to pluck, each bite 
    coating our mouths with its sweetness. 

    Once we road on a bus
    through Rwanda. The driver invited us to sit beside him
    on our suitcases, since there were no seats left. 
    We had the best view: of long, lithe Rwandans streaming
    up and down roads lined with banana trees.
    When an oncoming bus slid off
    the dirt road,  men got out and heaved it upright,
    shoulders waving rhythmically, a manly dance.

    These days our path grows dark 
    with danger, 
    as age and illness push 
    us toward its edge.
    But our life together is not a chiaroscuro painting
    lit by a single flame. 
    Our path is ablaze with memories.

Origin Stories – Our Path

My husband of fifty-two years is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The disease is progressing. I often feel very frightened about our future. To cope and to console myself, I have taken to writing love poems which draw from my many memories of our life together. In a sense, I am living in the past, since the present is rather difficult. I was also inspired by a poem I read in the New York Times Magazine, titled “Love and the Memory of It” by Jay Hopler. I kept rereading it as I wrote my own poem. Every aspect of Hopler’s poem impressed me: the message, the voice of the poet, the images (“the way her laughter echoed off the rocks”), the use of sound (“spook not at the shook world”).The poem was published in The Times on June 23, 2022. Jay Hopler died on June 15, 2022.


Martha Bordwell is a retired psychologist who has reinvented herself as a writer.  Her poems and essays have been published in national and international journals, including MinnPost, Motherwell, Korean Quarterly, Of Rust and Glass, Gyroscope Review, and Amsterdam Quarterly. In 2019, she published the memoir Missing Mothers (available through Barnes and Nobel and independent bookstores), which interweavesher experience of losing her mother who died when she was a child with her experience raising adopted children. She lives in Minneapolis.

Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Available now!

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

April 6 – Jeanne DeLarm

April 7 – Virginia Smith

April 8 – Patricia Ware

April 9 – Mary Makofske

April 10 – Ann Wallace

April 11 – Jessica Purdy

April 12 – Lakshman Bulusu

April 13 – Kim Malinowski

April 14 – Anita Pulier

Previous NPM celebrations from Gyroscope Review

Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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Origin Stories