#100 and other poems by Elizabeth Schmuhl

I have a certain fantasy:
the earth that holds me
swallows me

No one digs me a grave.

What a luxury to slip
into cool darkness.

On my skin: worms and ants.
A lullaby of movement.

I always knew death
could be this sweet.


I am waiting for him to come
again the Queen Anne’s Lace
nodding in the wind
tiny blinking stars, and the summer
insects singing: a thick wall
of sound.

I press up onto my forearms and
follow the noise until I reach
the end of the row.

My head aches in this lemon light.

Why can’t I be the girl who is lifted
by a small cool breeze? Whose petals
make the ground unbearably beautiful?

I am here in this field waiting
to be fertilized
like everything else.

How silly to be with a human
when there are still
so many bees.


My children leave at night.
Twins, they paint their faces
similarly. Two human mirrors
looking for arrow heads.

I dream of their hands
red with sumac. They are digging
in the south orchard’s sand.

The moon is heavy and cocooning.
Supportive in its light, milky glow.

They show each other the pieces of flint
as they find them, placing them
into their pockets.

They work quickly
look up at the house
worried I’ll come
running toward them. But I
keep dreaming let them
dig until morning.

When I wake, go into their rooms
they are missing.

I let them stay that way.

I am a mother who understands
the need to be.

I’ll see them again
when we dream.


Here the only mountains are my elbows
or my knees.
When I bend them just so
I fall back in love with myself.

Thank goodness.

Eating blackberries is one way
I’ve found to redeem myself.
The sweetness transfers,
transforms my wickedness
and I become a true romantic
who writes letters to the sky
while my relatives plot my death.

Over dinner they eat bread
not for the remembrance of my body
but as a promise.
One day they’ll conquer
have me however they wish
maybe with butter, gravy,
stale, the morning after.

Please, I’m begging, throw me out
feed me to the birds.
Can’t you please grant me
a dying wish?

About the author:

Elizabeth Schmuhl is a multidisciplinary artist. She is the author of Presto Agitato (Dancing Girl Press & Zoo Cake Press, 2015) and Premonitions (Wayne State University Press, forthcoming). She has taught writing at the University of Michigan, and currently illustrates essays for The Rumpus.

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