He Believes It

Katharyn Howd Machan

He Believes It
            The fog will lift. The city will return.
                        —Bruce Bennett in “Il Bacio”

He has to, this morning alone,
the street no street but
sleek cobblestones one by one
for his feet. So many dead—
or missing, simply missing?
Swallowed down a giant’s maw
to be spit up, whole and smiling?
He’s visited too many planets
to accept what his eyes see,
knows the inner heart of vision
waits out illusion’s tricks.
Sound, sound—where are the bells?
Will he find mourners keening?
Breathe slowly, reach slowly
for the crumpled photograph.
Does it still smell of rose perfume
from the pocket of a mother?
He will make his way
like shadow’s shadow, feeling
for the small lost one
he has traveled here to find
where lampposts used to flicker.

For three and a half decades Katharyn Howd Machan, picking up where Rod Serling left off, has taught creative writing at Ithaca College in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Her specialty courses, besides in poetry, are Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, Women and Fairy Tales, and first-year seminars called Fairy Tales: The Hero’s Journey. Her poems have appeared in 34 published collections (most recently the chapbooks Wild Grapes: Poems of Fox [a kitsune shape-shifter] from Finishing Line Press, Dreaming Turquoise from Red Berry Editions, and Dark Matters [driven by fairy tales and myths] from FutureCycle Press, and in many magazines, anthologies, and textbooks. Two full-length collections will appear early in 2018: Secret Music: Voices from Redwing, 1888 (Cayuga Lake Books) and Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press).

Editor’s Note: The photograph of the shadow on cobblestone is byみゆき AYP0721422

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