Katharyn Howd Machan
It’s been ten years:
first call of climbing frogs
heady in warm mist,
tiny prick of rambler roses
tumbling into cracked stone walls,
fat crunch of ripened chestnuts
sweet and sharp on the tongue.
And snow, of course, that breathless
fall of fragile crystal light
making him sigh, reach for my face,
with his beardless slender lips
kiss again my silent mouth
red as a dream apple.
He watched me long before
I ever noticed, his soft fingers
trembling desperate on the glass
that seemed to thicken each new day
my stillness stole all light.
You are the wings of every bird
I’ve felt fly through my sky
he swore in whispered prayer.
You are the room of paradise
where I will make my home.
Even today he looks at me
and seems to weep, as though he can’t
believe his luck: I woke.
And married him, of course.
Gone childhood, gone deadly queen
who hated me as pretty daughter,
gone huntsman and dark woods and hunger
–except in memory. How many times
I’ve built again that cozy house,
the seven chairs and bowls and beds,
deep-chested laughter, burly hands…
the diamonds their touch brought me!
He’ll never know just why I smile:
my name may be cold and pure,
but underneath these tight black curls
I long for little men.
Katharyn Howd Machan, Professor of Writing at Ithaca College, holds degrees from the College of Saint Rose, the University of Iowa, and Northwestern University. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines (Nimrod, Yankee, The MacGuffin, Snake Nation Review, Hanging Loose, Dogwood, Runes, Slipstream, Beloit Poetry Journal, South Coast Poetry Journal, Hollins Critic, The Salmon, West Branch, Seneca Review, Louisiana Literature, etc.) and anthologies/ textbooks (The Bedford Introduction to Literature, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, Poetry: An Introduction, Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now, Sound and Sense, Writing Poems, Literature: Reading and Writing the Human Experience, etc.), and in 31 collections, most recently H (Gribble Press, 2014), Belly Words: Poems of Dance (Split Oak Press, 2009), When She’s Asked to Think of Colors (Palettes & Quills Press, 2009), and The Professor Poems (The Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2008). In 2002 she was named the first poet laureate of Tompkins County, New York. Her poem “Tess Clarion: Redwing, 1888” received the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from the University of Southern California (judge Dana Gioia) and Kent State University awarded her poem “Gingerbread” the Luna Negra Prize. In 2012 she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology for Split Oak Press.