How to Turn a Mountain into a Molehill

by Greta Bolger
The Waters
Second Place, May 2014
Judged by R.T. Castleberry


You can be sure that the conflict
in his mind is framed much differently
than in yours. To him, you’ve dropped
a leaking radiator, still hot, on his head.
To you, you accidentally switched off the light

while he was reading. Clearly a molehill.
You play a violin in your head,
consider packing up for a night or two
in a motel. The chill, the silence is exhausting.
Snow covers the skylights in the bedroom.

Eventually, short sentences return, followed by
an in-depth review of your crime and its necessary
punishment. Sharp-clawed creatures can live
in a dark tunnel for days, pawing at dirt.
Finally, someone remembers the goal.

There are just the two of us here.
We are too old to climb mountains.
Together, we gather up the fine soil
of the molehill and use it to fertilize the garden.

No need to kill the moles after all.


I believe it was Georgia O’Keefe who said, “People change and forget to tell each other.” How To Turn… is a sharp, bedtime look at a brutally difficult marriage (To him, you’ve dropped/a leaking radiator, still hot, on his head./To you, you accidentally switched off the light/while he was reading.) as one on the participants starts to change. The wife considers what move to make to break the tension (You play a violin in your head,/consider packing up for a night or two/in a motel.), endures the recounting of her offense (Eventually, short sentences return/followed by/an in-depth review of (her) crime…) and decides that reconciliation, however enabling for him, is best: Finally, someone remembers the goal./There are just two of us here. However, it’s clear that it’s not “someone” but the wife who has gained the greater wisdom in their marriage. And it is she who will, ever so subtly, shape its direction in the future. --R.T. Castleberry

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