Martin-Bowen II Carrie Great Grandma
Lost: Great-Grandma’s Pearl Earring (Six Tankas)
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

We jumped and plié-ed
outside the student center
on a cold day in
mid-December just before
Christmas Break my freshman year.

The pearls were real—not
cultured, Dad said and gave me
Great-grandma’s earrings.
The gold, 18 karat, its
posts skewered, not like today’s

cheap, slippery ones
molded from aluminum.
And yet, the post stripped,
slipped from my lobe to brown grass
in the lawn by the stone wall.

Gone, forever, like
Great-grandma and now, Father—
lost in onyx nights
that clutch me in their shadows
blinding me from spotting a

pearl hiding within
soil too gritty to unearth
when I need to keep
my hands immaculate, nails
pristine to finish my work.

I never found it—
that earring. I buried its
mate in my purse till
I moved it to a box with
photos of Dad and Nana.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My Great-Grandmother Carrie near age 80.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Silver Birch Press’s prompt inspired me to write this poem about this irretrievable loss I incurred when I was 18 and a college freshman. Great-grandmother Carrie was long gone, but I remembered her often. Her pearl earrings brought her to mind each morning when I looked into the mirror.  To help keep the poem less sentimental (I hope), I wrote this using six tankas: each five-line poems with five-seven-five-seven-seven syllabic counts—and a turn in the last two lines. Perhaps writing this poem is the “found” aspect.

Martin-Bowen I

Lindsey Martin-Bowen
’s third collection CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison (in chapbook form) was a semi-finalist in the QuillsEdge Press 2015-2016 Chapbook Contest. In 2016, Writer’s Digest gave her poem “Vegetable Linguistics” an Honorable Mention in its Eighty-Fifth Annual Contest (Non-rhyming Poetry Category). Her Inside Virgil’s Garage (Chatter House) was a runner-up in the 2015 Nelson Poetry Book Award. McClatchy Newspapers named her Standing on the Edge of the World (Woodley Press) one of the Ten Top Poetry Books of 2008. Her poems have appeared in New Letters, I-70 Review, Thorny Locust, Amethyst Arsenic, Silver Birch Press, Tittynope Zine, Bare Root Review, Coal City Review, Flint Hills Review, The Same, Rockhurst Review, 11 anthologies, and other magazines. She taught at UMKC 18 years and teaches at MCC-Longview. Visit her on Facebook.