Shooting Stars Lose Their Meaning When You're Dead
Shannon Frost Greenstein
I wanted to hate her, because she was thinner than me.
But cloistered away
behind the locked doors
of the eating disorders facility,
it is nonetheless the natural order of things
to bond in the face of trauma.
We became friends because of the torment we shared.
Two ballerinas with fucked-up families
growing up on either side
of the Mason-Dixon,
crushed under pressure
and internalizing the mantra
that less will never not be more,
is it any wonder Anorexia would haunt us both
long after we put the pointe shoes away?
She was still sick when she left the clinic.
The insidious methods
of for-profit healthcare
denied her further insurance coverage,
and she returned to her Southern university
to obtain an MRS degree
with barely a dent
made to her eating disorder.
All she wanted was a baby.
She married a good Christian boy
and kept losing weight;
she punished her body
even as she begged it to conceive.
But Anorexia is self-loathing made incarnate
and it forbid her the nutrition
to grow a little one of her own.
I wanted her to have a child with every fiber of my being.
She once posted on Instagram
about her fertility and her despair;
she and her husband
wanted only for God
to show them their efforts were not in vain.
Then they saw a shooting star,
and believed it to be a message.
She knew she’d get pregnant, if she just kept trying.
These days, however, I’ve come to understand
that what my friend and her husband
interpreted as a divine sign
was really just a meteor.
Because shooting stars lose their meaning when you’re dead.
In Memory of Sarah S.: April 1993 – March 2021
Shannon Frost Greenstein (she/her) resides in Philadelphia with her children and soulmate. She is the author of “These Are a Few of My Least Favorite Things”, a full-length book of poetry available from Really Serious Literature, and “Pray for Us Sinners,” a short story collection with Alien Buddha Press. Shannon is a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy and a multi-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Pithead Chapel, Bending Genres, and elsewhere. Follow Shannon at shannonfrostgreenstein.com or on Twitter at @ShannonFrostGre.