Vox Populi

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Martha Silano: Nothing I Did

In 6th grade Mrs. Kottler introduced a concept: 

the googolplex: 10 x 10 to the 100th power.

Not infinity, she said. Infinity was larger.

My father said no infinity times, said all As,

no A-minuses. In 6th grade I devised a plan:

if I was perfect, if I made no sound.

Saturday morning I’d begin with the sinks,

the carpets, the lawn. Rake the clippings, 

dust the shelf of Raggedy Anns.

If not one speck. If I did not like

a girl or boy enough to be asked

to their house. If the space I took up

was smaller than its opposite.

One particle of dust in the known

universe. How did I solve?

By dissolving: quiet, quiet. Less, less.

The sinks gleamed. I admired the lawn,

did everything he told me, including


When you’re 18? You’re on your own.

Out. I didn’t feel the need to be perfect

again until I was the mother of an infant,

knew I could hurt my son in any number

of ways: a diaper left on too long,

one feeding missed. It pained me

to place him on a doctor’s scale,

strap him into a car seat. No good 

at calming him down, filling him up.

I was back in sixth grade, an unending

regress. That I’ll drop him. Is that a rash?

Ten to the tenth power times 100:

as far from infinity as the number one.

One misstep, and his atoms returned

to the star where he was born. 

Copyright 2021 Martha Silano

Martha Silano’s collections of poetry include Gravity Assist (Saturnalia, 2019). She teaches at Bellevue College, near her home in Seattle, Washington.

5 comments on “Martha Silano: Nothing I Did

  1. pdlyons
    September 3, 2021

    oh the strength of our daughters. striking strong work and i’m thanking you for it. all the best. cheers

    Liked by 2 people

  2. pdlyons
    September 3, 2021

    Reblogged this on Pdlyons's Explorations and commented:
    oh the strength of our daughters. wonderful work

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Barbara Huntington
    September 1, 2021

    Always miss goody two shoes. Always trying to please. Then feeling I wasn’t a perfect parent. They grew up, had babies of their own, are good people in spite of my small failures or large. The regress reverses again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      September 3, 2021

      Yes, I’m always surprised when I see how well my two children have turned out.

      Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on September 1, 2021 by in Health and Nutrition, Poetry and tagged , , , , .

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