We can think of marks and tracks as remnants, visual echoes from distant times, or we can think of them as our own ways of responding to our current situation in various shapes and forms. But there are other, daily, incidental marks—the indentation left by our beloved’s face on the pillow, the flat plain, or the rumpled hillocks left by our blankets when we get up in the morning. Here, Carl Little gives us those marks made and smoothed over in the daily chore of making the bed.

Betsy Sholl, Maine Arts Journal Poetry Editor


Making the Bed


Is my job and this morning

her side is still warm

as duvet is whipped straight

pillows plumped and replaced

dreams removed for the day.


A man I knew slept on his back

crossed arms on chest

in prep for final send-off and

to keep grass growing on the

other side of the fence.


That man made the bed with grace

more than I can muster facing

sheets that won’t stay put

and blanket with mind its own.

That man I knew could smooth


a running ridge and mastered

hospital corners. Lucky duck,

I say, with no one else in the room

to witness my hands lingering

where her warmth remains.


Carl Little lives and writes on Mount Desert Island. His poetry has been featured in Maine Sunday Telegram’s “Deep Water” and “Poems from Here” on Maine Public Radio, as well as in 3 Nations Anthology: Native, Canadian & New England Writers (2017), Local News: Poetry about Small Towns (2019), and Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s 50th-anniversary publication “Voices from the Coast” (2020).

Image at top: Alison Rector, Beacon, oil painting, 21 x 24 in., 2008 (photo: Jay York).