Jennifer Perrine’s “Sickness” & Martha Silano’s “I’m not sure why I decided” (Broadsided)


by Jennifer Perrine

We never married, thought it too quaint, too ball and chain. Fixed, pinned.
We rejected being yoked like oxen, caged together in that hallowed zoo. And yet,

we dreamt of a honeymoon, every place we’d explore, were money no object: north
and south of the equator, shore to shore, dozens of state parks. For now, you go

as far as your job at the hospital, despite my qualms, for the hazard pay. Home
at night, you wear a mask. I wear gloves. This is our latex without sex. This is love

in a time when every blush conjures fever, when we quiz each other
after each cough. I examine your hands, count as you soap them before we touch.

For better or worse, we cozy together to wait for the latest dispatch. I exhaust myself
with updates, jerk awake hours later. You’ve covered me with a quilt

from your glory box. I find you gazing out a dark window, watching your ghost
in glass vanish at civil dawn. I join you, squint to catch that phantom us

wearing a gown, a tux. No father gave you away, no mother arranged my veil,
no frenzied crowd jockeyed for the bouquet. The rice, unthrown, we keep

in the cupboard. We keep our extravaganza a private joy. We keep each quiet
vow in the mouth: to have and hold, for richer and poorer. Now, and in health.

Previously published by Broadsided (July 15, 2020) with artwork by Michele L’Heureux.

*Writing Prompt: Write a Beautiful Outlaw poem. Choose a noun that represents something present you wish you could escape, or something absent you wish would return. Make it your title. Then, for each letter in that word, write one stanza in which that letter never appears but every other letter of the alphabet is included. (For example, in this poem, “S” is missing in the first stanza, “I” in the second, etc.)

I’m not sure why I decided

by Martha Silano

Shelter in Place would equal a book called The Story of Earth,
which I read aloud to my husband each night as his breath
begins to louden, lengthen. We are learning our moon
was borne of a colossal collision, aka the Big Thwack,
when a planet named Theia, after the Titan goddess
whose name means sight—who birthed the sun and moon
and dawn—wandered into Earth’s orbit. “Theia’s smooshed,”
I hear myself saying. And then I pause.

                                                                          And now it’s just me
and Theia, her obliteration, though listen: it’s Theia, the moon,
and each of us thrown 23 degrees off our axes; really, it’s Theia:
some of her escaped into deep space, but her iron is in our core;
she’s the one who gave us seasons—each ripening ear of corn,
every trillium and trout lily, the dark cold days and the warmest.

Previously published by Broadsided (July 15, 2020) with artwork by Jen P. Harris.

*Writing Prompt: Look around your home for a set of 14 words (verbs or nouns only) that are easily visible. They can be from food packaging, book spines (don’t open any books!), magnets, or “to do” lists left on the counter. Create a 14-line poem (a semi-sonnet), in which each line uses one of those found words.

This issue of The Hard Work of Hope is produced in partnership with Broadsided.

Jennifer Perrine (JP)

Jennifer Perrine (JP) is the award-winning author of four books of poetry: Again, The Body Is No Machine, In the Human Zoo, and No Confession, No Mass. JP serves as the current guest editor for Broadsided Press and is a co-editor at Airlie Press, a consensus-based collective that publishes poetry by Pacific Northwest writers. JP lives in Portland, Oregon, where they co-host the Incite: Queer Writers Read series and teach creative writing and intersectional equity practices to youth and adults. To learn more, visit

Martha Silano

Martha Silano’s most recent collections are Gravity Assist and Reckless Lovely, both from Saturnalia Books. She co-authored The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice. Her poems have appeared widely, in such places as Poetry, Paris Review, and American Poetry Review. Martha teaches at Bellevue College and Seattle’s Hugo House.