A Poem by Martha Silano

Martha Silano

Martha Silano

Martha Silano’s most recent poetry collection is Gravity Assist (Saturnalia Books, 2019). Previous collections include Reckless Lovely and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, also from Saturnalia Books. A forthcoming collection, This One We Call Ours, won the 2023 Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry, and will appear in the fall of 2024 from Washington State University Press. Martha’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The Missouri ReviewKenyon Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. She taught college English for thirty years, primarily at Bellevue College. 

Willing & Able

If, when the beverage cart careens into the cockpit door,
tray tables unhinging, seat cushions reminding themselves

how to float, as I stage my heroic lunge but cannot release, 
don’t panic: a gentleman in 26D will slide his fingers beneath 

the stubborn hatch, give it a quick tug, and we’ll file out 
like we’re exiting a roller coaster—Power Keg, Jack Knife, 

Fire in the Hole—a tad rattled, a smidgen disarrayed, ready 
to wolf down what’s left of the chicken-teriyaki wraps. 

Don’t worry: before the plunge, he and I will assess 
the length of the leap, the depth of the lake, 

the look of the limbs and lawns we’re crashing toward, 
size up the leagues and lacerations. Checking our apps, 

we’ll convert gallons to gravity, Fahrenheit to flattened, 
miles to machinations. Yes, fellow passengers, we duly swear 

to commandeer this door, willing and able to negotiate
any and all punctures, stowed explosives, each caustic 

concoction shoved down any chap or chick’s lacy fuchsia thong. 
Let every passenger—booted or belted, sweatered, blazered, 

sari-swathed—slip through security loaded down with Deep 
Damage Recovery Serum, trusty nail file, gun: we’ve got 

your astonished sclera, your sublingual ducts, will escort you 
down the safety slide; you will live to see your loved ones 

molt and caper; you will have more years to cradle 
ice cubes in your hands, demand your entrée be reheated, 

spot eggshells in the batter, stare out of windows into the dark.