Sputnik Planum by Jamie Shrewsbury
My Beloved Pluto,
We didn’t always aim our guns directly into the proverbial fish barrel. I have the scars to prove it. I’ve split open for you, poured out my soul. And they expected me to be one-dimensional, ha! Our memoirs would be called The Perilous Nature of Living on the Edge—or something equally trite. What would I be without you? When you breathe on me, I collect it like fireflies in a jar. I wear it proudly on my head. I’m healing but the damage is done, and we’re still here for each other. Who else will love you the way I love you? You are my sun. There is warmth in me as there is warmth in you—just because it’s not on our surface doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It’s what helps us recover. Warm hearts mend cold shells. (Another vapid memoir title.)
Your crimson valor is hypnotic. You draw us with your silky surface, your youthful glow. The conjuring of your broken past still leaves you with inadequacy’s dull ache. You do matter, see? You mattered eons ago just as you do every time you make your sedate revolution. Your brief stint as Pluto pariah bruised you, but it could never minimize your allure. You knew that part of your family felt nostalgic, but it didn’t change the cold. Your tears fill mountains and ice over. Has it always been this?
I orbited you in all your mystified beauty, inhaled your sweet sublime frost. I was even envious—you dwarfed me. You felt astronomical when you looked at me. Imagine that.
I melt as you sleep. When your family begged forgiveness, your core softened and your atmospheric wall unclouded. Now you giggle at the tickle of their tiny whimsical satellites touring your shell. Your stratosphere absorbs the minute flickering sounds of their flashbulb lights. Center of the universe. You blush at their compliments. They capture our gliding waltz. I try to carry you to another dimension. Two flushed faces light up the night sky.
They want to know everything about you now! They talk about you often. You haven’t felt this loved for light years. Now you’re the one in the limelight, baby. And I’m right here by your side, like I always promised.
I can’t conceal the dull yellow that radiates beneath my surface when I see the others. They still latch onto you. I can’t blame them. I’m not sure how anyone could ever leave you. They’d have to be completely out of their minds.
Sigh. We are still both unwilling to reveal ourselves fully. Do we not belong to each other? Embrace me; uncover me with a fine-toothed comb. What secret mist lies on our dark sides?
I know that my orbit is withering away, decaying like planetary nebulae. I’m interstellar dust without you, wandering. Perhaps you’ll be too busy worshipping that distant ball of fire to notice my absence. Or maybe you’ll experience phantom limb syndrome.
We’re the dancing sandhill cranes in an isolated bog, our elegant duet whistling beyond the moss. We only need each other. We can float away gracefully like debris from the tail of that comet. Who else will love you the way I love you—
Who’s going to admire you when you’re a distant, frozen memory? Let’s drift.
Jamie Shrewsbury is a Baltimore native and a current local in the summer tourist town of Ocean City, MD. She will graduate from Salisbury University in December 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and plans to attend graduate school somewhere far away from Maryland.