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Sunday, November 06, 2016


by Katherine Smith

If this emptiness were all that was left
I would spend the rest of my life reading
paranoid fantasies late into the night.

Instead of going out early to see the leaves
of the cherry trees turn a creamy peach
I would read every night till three the words of the hero

who rarely stepped out of the Sixth Arrondissement
of Paris, a place I happen to know quite well.
I would drink cocoa and fall under the spell of a clash

between fascists and the Muslim Brotherhood
the critics call satire. But I’m pretty sure
the writer believes far more in his dark story

of veiled women, cowardly professors, conspiracies,
than he believes in me, his American reader,
a middle-aged woman in the suburbs. This morning

I regret losing myself in his tale. Dew has already dried
from the late blooming roses. My face sags. I shower,
and accept that my thoughts are unlikely

to persuade anyone. Dependably sane
and despicably naïve, I start my car, drive
to the Frederick Senior Citizens’ Center

to cast my ballot during early voting.

Katherine Smith’s previous publications include appearances in Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003; her second Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press, appeared in 2014.