A White City Underground

The white palisades, the walkway beside
the forgetful river where everything ?
from broken spectacles to buckle shoes ?
is lost. Well, I don?t buy a single word,
this supposed place of the dead, a mile
under earth, from which, she insists, she has
travelled back with an all-consuming thirst.
As I fix us hot chocolate, my niece can?t
stop her girl talk, as if she has come fresh
from seeing her amigas. Between sips,
fibs spill out about fingers of shade, no
natural light, only the flickering glow
of the spirits themselves, colder, fiercer
than novae. On and on. Shaking my head,
I drop her at the bus stop with a shrug ?
catch myself, puzzled, just then recalling
how long it was after she disappeared
before her slender bones were even missed.

from From The Wonder Book of Would You Believe It? (Mariscat, 2016), ? Jane McKie 2016, used by permission of the author

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