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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 or on Twitter at @ShannonFrostGre.

Shannon Frost Greenstein
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