Pluto can’t be in this poem. Nor can mutter or farther. Nor can How to Help Your Teen Beat
an Eating Disorder. An image disaster. A model’s mocking impossible.
The safety zone of a bedroom for a year and a month.
How do you tell a sixteen-year old she needs to eat breakfast,
eat lunch, eat dinner. Pluto: is it a planet
or not? For a long time it was,
and then it wasn’t, became the wrong answer on the test,
the orphan line, the castaway, the one to laugh at
on the playground. Dwarf
in the Kuiper Belt. Named for the God of the Underworld,
Persephone’s home for half the year,
and how can I not think
of Eavan Boland’s “The Pomegranate,” about a daughter lost in hell.
Need I say more? I won’t, except I will, except that I’m writing
about Pluto when I said I would not,
except these syllables are like its moons, what was its star,
like the girl who wanted to know
where the pork came from,
which animal? In the underground. If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift,
I read again, another year closer to grown and gone.
But the fruit. For her it’s strawberries—
always to the store for more, which she deftly cuts the tops off,
arranges on a plate in the self-dark, in the parasol night,
in the knowledge it was, it so was, and now is not.
Martha Silano has authored five poetry collections, most recently Gravity Assist (Saturnalia Books 2019). Campbell McGrath chose her third collection, The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, as the winner of the 2011 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Co-author of The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice, Silano teaches at Bellevue College.