To Summon His Spirit Back from the Dead

She fills a bag with chicken and cheese,

spring water, red wine, strong brandy,

then pulls on boots and sets out fast,

hoping his ghost can keep on calling

to help her find the way. She follows

snow, she follows the sheen of his

ashes between shadow and light 

singing Brother o brother where art thou

to the tune of his favorite jazzy song. 

At last there he is with winter eyes

in the middle of time’s muddled world,

that glimmer of his old twisted smile

humming Maybe, baby, I loved you once

but it’s sure been quite awhile.

Katharyn Howd Machan

Katharyn Howd Machan is a professor in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College. She has served as coordinator of the Ithaca Community Poets and director of the Feminist Women’s Writing Workshops, Inc. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, textbooks, and collections (most recently Dark Side of the Spoon from Moonstone Press in 2022 and A Slow Bottle of Wine, winner of the Comstock Writers’ Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Competition, in 2020), and she has edited three thematic works, including Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology with Split Oak Press.