Poem Written One-Hundred Yards from My Mother’s Grave

By Martha Silano

Of course, the sky is cloudless. Of course, when the sun sets,
we can see Orion’s belt, four planets in a row,
Taurus’s bright eye.

I’m standing on the porch of her brother’s cabin,
the one forged from cedar logs, the cabin
she never got to see,

never got to wrap herself in my Aunt Judy’s red, white, and blue-checked throw,
add a log to the fire, joke about the icy outhouse toilet seat,
sing along to a battery-powered radio’s

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” She’s down past a grove of oaks,
or her bones anyway, in the most peaceful spot
on this 160-acre homestead.

Sitting beside her marking stone, a V-shaped cluster of Ozark sandstone,
limestone, and chert, I knew she couldn’t be gone, couldn’t be
in some kind of pearly-gated heaven.

Of course, when a pileated woodpecker flies close, let’s go
a high-pitched e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e, I know it’s her
as well as I know it’s not,

but that something was making sure, when the universe formed, gravity
wasn’t too strong—not enough to break atoms apart, not so weak
they couldn’t hold them together, expanding into now.


Martha Silano is the author of five full-length collections of poetry, including Gravity Assist and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, both from Saturnalia Books. Martha’s poems have appeared in such places as Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry Daily, and The Best American Poetry series. She teaches at Bellevue College.

Image: Martha Silano