Martha Clarkson

Room at the Top


Lydia Shultan has invisible friends, whose names all begin with J.
They live in the attic of her parents’ house
and stick together under the northeast eave.
She holds court sitting Indian-style on her aunt’s footlocker.

Lydia Shultan has an imagination like grass.
Fast growing and self-fertilized, with an occasional blow-able dandelion.
Her parents feel compelled to mow it back now and then,
disregarding her atmosphere.

Lydia Shultan creates a play where her box turtles are the actors.
She names one Charlie Chaplin, because of course it has to be a silent play.
For the score she plays her only piano piece, “Merry Roses.”
The blank-eyed turtles forget to take a bow.

Lydia Shultan isn’t going to get any brothers and sisters.
She’ll have to settle for the attic friends, who tend to be catty
and are unnaturally blonde, and the girls wear nylons instead of knee-highs.
Sometimes they run around the attic naked, so Lydia does, and it feels like flying.


Martha Clarkson manages corporate workplace design in Seattle. Her poetry and fiction can be found in monkeybicycle6, Clackamas Literary Review, Seattle Review, Portland Review, elimae, and Nimrod. She is a recipient of a Washington Poets Association William Stafford prize 2005, a Pushcart Nomination, and is listed under “Notable Stories,” Best American Non-Required Reading for 2007 and 2009.  She lives in Kirkland.