Photo by Mike Towber, Some rights reserved

for Michael Wells

You tell me a staircase that leads

to nowhere is your recurring

dream just moments before

you teach me the Welsh word hiraeth,

and it’s as if you’ve used a magic spell:

I now have that intense

homesickness that doesn’t

translate into English.

I see your dream staircase, or

one like it, each time I go

home to my parents.

Did you know the staircase to nowhere

is in the center of the world:

Felicity, California?

I’m serious.

The stairs are one of twenty

pieces of the original Eiffel Tower.

France and other EU

countries recognize Felicity

            as the center.

The US does not.


intense happiness,

also doesn’t translate into American

English, we who always

chase dreams

that leave us breathless

and far from home.

Katie Manning is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and her fifth chapbook, 28,065 Nights, is available from River Glass Books. Her poems have appeared in december, The Lascaux Review, New Letters, Poet Lore, and many other venues. Her poem “What to Expect” was recently featured on the Poetry Unbound podcast from The On Being Project. Find her online at