Among the late-afternoon walkers in the square,
I tighten the hood around my pale face
and squint through goggles for
any scrap of sun that squeezes through.
I could be on Bradbury’s Venus on the sweltering day
when the sizzling rain pauses, but I am on Eaarth.
In the absence of wind, showers, and past birdsong, I hear
my robe swishing. I will myself
not to think about music, my own earworms,
or suggestions sent to me like headaches.
I hear only the buzz of mosquitoes, balked by the heavy cloth.
Shuffling, weighed down, I watch holograms hover
over the soft stones of the square that resist ceaseless rain and wind.
The holograms show skin, unlike the living.
Mosquitoes will not bite them. They have no blood to poison.
Holograms do not talk to me. I am too poor and homely.
They are as silent as the electric cars and aircraft
that swarm the city and beyond
I walk to the shore of the acid ocean, the beach
lacquered with toxic jellyfish and seaweed.
I smell nothing. I have been walking
here forever in search of something.
A hologram in cargo shorts floats above
like a new-age Jesus going out to Peter’s boat.
I look out to the horizon. The waters cover the cities
where, as children, the holograms wore Easter outfits
and couples sauntered out in the sweetly-scented sun
so many years ago as music played from transistor radios.
The rain will resume. The music will as well.
For now, I enjoy their absence.
Marianne Szlyk is the editor of The Song Is… , an associate poetry editor at Potomac Review, and a professor of English at Montgomery College. Her second chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, was published by Flutter Press. Her poems have appeared in a variety of online and print venues, including Silver Birch Press, Cactifur, Of/with, bird’s thumb, Truck, and Yellow Chair Review. Her first chapbook is available through Kind of a Hurricane Press. She hopes that you will consider sending work to her magazine. For more information about it, see this link: http://thesongis.