Pry Bar Constellation
At the planetarium the docent aimed her light-up pointer at three stars.
This is the Pry Bar Constellation, she said. This is how the mummies
spoke to Osiris, their gauzy mouths pried open like cans
of black olives. But when I googled Egyptian astronomy
I got nothing—not the Imperishables, stars that do not rise
or set in the land of the Sphinx, not the story about the crown
of Sah, which they rode for seventy days to the Underworld,
sort of like Egyptian Persephones, returning for the flooding
of the Nile. What I’d like to see is a green-backed heron wading
in the Nile. What I’d like to say is that the mummification process—
bicarbonate, chloride, sodium, sulfate, honey and wine, oil of borage,
liver and lungs packed in salt, the body covered in natron for forty days,
the brain removed through the nostrils with a single curved hook—
makes me very tired, or maybe it’s that hot, dry 100-mile journey
to a hidden cave, slaves dragging those impossibly sturdy tombs,
those libation dishes, spoonbill-adorned hair combs, tusk figurines
and recumbent lions, extravagance beyond measure heading
for the dark. I guess I’m lucky I’m not an Egyptologist, white-toga
and sandal clad, deciphering hieroglyphics, because then I’d be the one
who squealed on those who stumbled on the spoils. I wonder
if she made up the part about the pry bar, but really how much stranger
than a sky replete with a crab, a dragon, two bears, a swan?
Than a club-wielding guy in hot pursuit of a hare, a long band of leather
keeping his kilt from falling endlessly through the sky?
Martha Silano is the author of four books of poetry, including The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, chosen by Campbell McGrath as the winner of the 2010 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize and Reckless Lovely (Saturnalia Books 2014). She also co-edited, with Kelli Russell Agodon, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice (Two Sylvias Press 2013). Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Paris Review, Poetry, Orion, American Poetry Review, and North American Review, where she received the 2014 James Hearst Poetry Prize, as well as in many anthologies, including American Poetry: The Next Generation and The Best American Poetry 2009. Martha serves as poetry editor of Crab Creek Review, curates Beacon Bards, a Seattle-based reading series, and teaches at Bellevue College.
Leslie LaChance edits Mixitini Matrix: A Journal of Creative Collaboration, has curated The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications and written poetry reviews for Stirring: A Literary Collection. Her poems have appeared in literary journals, and her chapbook, How She Got That Way, was published in the quartet volume Mend & Hone by Toadlily Press in 2013. She teaches literature and writing at Volunteer State Community College in Tennessee, and if she is not teaching, writing, or editing, she has probably just gone to make some more espresso.