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hope at its core

Easy to threaten her heart, to blackmail, 

—“Well, loneliness is a fair bedfellow; 

After all, you’re empty, wretched and stale!” 

‘Til cobalt eyes smile around morning mail, 

The threat suddenly falls flat, rings hollow, 

Who has such right to engulf and assail? 

Her heart drags in its slow, freefalling trail, 

—Oh, she knows love is myth, surely shallow, 

As if in search of some unholy grail! 

Like Alcyone’s prayer, a sharp-edged folktale, 

Like the body of Ceyx, strewn far, laid low, 

Dramatic, yes, but why try just to fail? 

A whisper goes deep, tremulous and frail, 

Hope at its core—an untouchable glow, 

What she’d give for what the truth might entail! 

Now stretch it out wide, a future set sail, 

Now writ in the stars, for heart to follow, 

—On loneliness: a just cause must prevail, 

‘Til then, the sorrow; well, she can curtail.


Maddie Bowen-Smyth is an avid tabletop roleplayer, appreciator of fried shallots, and hunter of obscure historical facts. In her work, bull-headed hopefulness finds a way through the lasting echoes of trauma. She lives in Australia with her wife and growing menagerie. Find her at @calliopium and

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