Do you want to see more?

Kathryn Smith


Our outer-space photos confirm water on Mars. Maybe not now, but at some point in the past. Either way, this comes as a relief, considering our whales have been swimming upriver, captured on drone camera footage. Not the same cameras we sent to Mars, but they could be. There could be whales on Mars. We could send our whales there, pilot whales, pilotless drones, Mars in relief, a planet of lakes and rivers flowing the length of the Martian year. When Martian salmon spawn, the red tug of renewal pulls them upstream. Our whales are (d)evolving into salmon. All to the chordate root. Maybe on Mars, the past is the future. The rover’s name is Curiosity. The whale’s name is Doomed.


Rehearsal for the Apocalypse

Kathryn Smith

As the world was ending, we decided we’d
better choose our steeds.
Copper for me, black for my sister.
Dmitry would take the pale horse,
exercising his flair for the dramatic.
Father said it was not in keeping with the
Good Book to play such a game, not with
Hell at the threshold, banging down the door.
I’ve never been able to picture it: Satan
just standing there, his fiery hand curled to a burning fist,
knocking without setting everything alight.
Last spring there was such a late frost we lost
most of the garden and mother
nearly starved. I’ve always believed the end would
open the door in a gale of frigid air and take us all at once.
Pale horse or no, this wilderness could
quench any fire, even that foretold
revelatory burning. Sister stands by her choice,
saying black is the color you want when the world
turns around. Saying copper is ugly, and only
unfaithful girls choose it: girls who look to
Venus when the reckoning comes, who choose
water over fire, who primp and preen like Esther for
Xerxes, who never call on the name
Yahweh until the end, when
Zeus’ thunder rains down, and none can abide it.


A permeable membrane in the mutable cosmos

Kathryn Smith


Tell me again of the lepers who learn
              to shed their disastrous skin
by eating the meat of vipers: something
transmutable in the flesh. The ancients
                             spent lifetimes considering
the resurrection of irretrievable
            wolf-devoured flank, eyes
of martyrs pecked clean in a village square.
                                                           Tell me again
about the new heaven and the new earth,

when the bear returns an unblemished arm
to its faithful socket, when mountains
                open their mouths to receive
conduits and I-beams and engagement diamonds
and the fish ladders the rivers will give up
                          with their dams when the earth
is made new.
                          Tell me the formula

for feeling whole again
               after tragedy. The equation for how much time
I needed after saying no
                            before I’d tell you yes.
Tell me I’ll never be alone, even when I want
to be alone.


Kathryn Smith's poems have been nominated for Best American Poetry and the Pushcart Prize, and have been published in Bellingham Review, Mid-American Review, Redivider, Southern Indiana Review and elsewhere. A mini-chapbook, Tracing the New Stars, was published in Rock & Sling in 2016. A graduate of Eastern Washington University's MFA program in creative writing, she lives in Spokane.

Duende Logo-2.png