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February 21, 2018 | Poetry

Five Poems

Elizabeth Schmuhl

Five Poems photo

# 46

Purple irises surround the barn.
What terrible watchmen.

At least ten swallows
have taken up permanent residency.

And most disturbingly, I’ve seen
the ghost of my grandmother

counting bushels, worried there
won’t be enough fruit to last

the family through fall
and all of the months beyond.


Put a raspberry between your lips.
Press down.
Sip in its sweet tenderness.
That’s me.


As a spirit, find me
raking the orchard sand
with my long fingers.

If you discover an arrowhead
know I touched it first.

Any petals that have floated
from fruit trees
have already fallen
on my head.

I shake them
out of my hair
while I dance to the evening
sounds slowing turning
me on.

You’re welcome
to watch.


The snow is beautiful and I want to die. Who could
refuse this softness?

Not the plants, their petals: lost memories.
Their limbs: tiny skeletons.

I have given myself permission to lie down forever.
It’s a miracle: today, the Earth has even made me this bed.


Morning snakes through the orchard. Young apricot trees
like wind chimes touch then part. I wake on my belly
and into the loneliness stitched to my bones. I’m sore with it.

Wait, a voice says.

I do.

One, then two bodies. Gray pelts, running.

My bones soften when they find me.

The coyotes growl hungrily. Their teeth: yellowed, sharp.


image: Aaron Burch