House of Mystery

Here, where a girdle clothes-pinned to a clothesline
disappeared. Here, where a mother kept asking,

have you seen it? Have you seen my girdle? I hung it
on the line. Here, where a father decided every blessed

forsythia must be hacked to the nubbins. A cardboard box
teemed with laboratory frogs: when the first one died

the children were solemn; when the last one croaked
they took turns swinging its steel gray corpse at the pear tree

till one of its legs took hold to a sturdy branch. After
a downpour, mud-orange slugs worked their way

up the garage; Joanie Hoppel, in pastel pink chalk,
If you have an egg, get lost. There was burning meat,

an anti-Semitic who bought a house across the street
from a synagogue, and, by the way, did you know chrysalis

derives from the Hebrew harus, meaning gold? Here,
where a father feared what would happen to his mind

if one of his children died. Here, where a girdle, without
fanfare or explanation, fluttered from a hapless sky,

landed in the pocket of a mother’s robe as she settled in
for daily dose of Rocky Road and Guiding Light.

Martha Silano’s books are What the Truth Tastes Like, Blue Positive, and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, chosen by Campbell McGrath as the winner of the 2010 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Paris Review, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry 2009, and elsewhere.

By the Same Author

The Journal is a magazine of literature published four times yearly and supported by the Department of English, private contributions, advertisements, and sales. The magazine is endorsed by the Ohio State University, and its contents determined solely by the editorial staff. Address all correspondence to The Journal, The Ohio State University, Department of English, 164 W. 17th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210. E-mail: managingeditor@thejournalmag.org.