DECADES AFTER THE CANCER TRIUMPHED
I took a small bell of heirloom crystal
from its place high on a mahogany shelf
and watched it slip from my hand
and shatter like ice, un-melting
in the stale heat of a July day. I tried to hear
its intended song, small melody of sound waves
obligated by law to vibrate around the room.
But the law cannot accommodate a lie
so I stood in silence over the scattered shards,
my hand cupped in a worthless grasp
of air, the object after it is gone.
In the same amount of time it takes
for a human cell to stutter and stray
from its proper path, the bell was transformed
into garbage fit for a broom and pan.
Foolishly, I still listen for your voice
believing I have not forgotten its timbre, its way
of saying my name.
You are the ghost
inside my spine, the snow-covered
lake disappearing into a snow-colored
sky, the grains of rice
a mouse stashed in the pockets
of my sweater but forgot about.
I’ve been forgetting you
for twenty-four years now,
your memory with
the blunt end of time.
Tell me, what of the blank page
my mind will soon become?
What is there to think, if not you?
TO SARAH, GIVEN AWAY
Snow has fallen many times
since the night you were born.
(Is that the right word
to describe what happened?)
each flake is different, but this is not—
that, my thought, as I opened wide
as a milkweed pod in changing weather.
your tufted head, coaxed you
from me or me from you
(pronouns are interchangeable here).
Your downy shoulders, hips
and finally your feet.
Out through the narrow
of a cave (I was impossibly dark, I admit)
into the startling cry of light.
Mostly, that was all.
The clock on the wall, the puce drapes,
stained sheets replaced by new,
dropped ceiling tiles
with an impossible collection of pinpricks,
constellations of thin regret.
Amy Schmidt’s work has been published in The Florida Review, Profane, Ruminate and Calyx, among others. She has been a finalist for the Janet McCabe Poetry Prize and a recipient of an Arrowhead Regional Arts Grant. She homesteads in northern Minnesota where snow is a given and sun is a gift; she lives there with her husband, daughter and bloodhound.