The Collecting

Short Stories

By Kaitlin Schmidt 

            She wrote of her father’s family, which she met only in dreams. The fabrication of details didn’t upset her conscience because the doctor gave her license to ‘create’ whatever she thought would contribute to healing. Claire created and recreated, things from her mind and life and things from an imagined life she might have lived once.

            Instead of unpacking the boxes that formed cardboard towers all around her childhood bedroom, she rummaged in her old desk for paper. Her palms became coated in soft gray dust while she investigated the empty cubbies and drawers. She had been gone long enough for these spaces to be unfamiliar now. Out the window and up the street – the lawns and houses were only the bones of her memories, while all the flesh and color had changed.

            She found a yellow legal pad with scribbles about a missed phone call on the top page. She ripped it off and started fresh.

            The facts were never nailed down, the youngest sister craved answers but they floated between her fingers like mist, only moistening her palms. She listened to her mother speak of family photographs.
“Some folks in everyday clothes and alongside them full Indians with feathers and beads all the way down.”

They were relatives, she said. The people in the photos were the great aunts and uncles that had left the reservations for a different sort of living and then came back to visit. These photos, though much discussed, could never be produced when relatives were called upon to search them out from top-shelf closet boxes and from basement storage bins.

World Building


By Kaitlin Schmidt

When I nap in the afternoon, on top of the sheets,
I imagine the tingling ghost of something
in the space between my palm and fingers.
I imagine the weight of a hand on my hand.

I like to pretend you apologize to me in languages I can’t read –
“I’m sorry” says the glossy painting in the Chinese restaurant.
“How very careless I am” say the Spanish subtitles.

I imagine that the sparrow who studies me while I work,
who creeps and fidgets, pauses and peers,
houses the diamonds of your condensed soul in its chest.
It bounces here and there; you rattle and shine.

Tipsy and light on melancholy chords, I drink my illusions by the gallon.
I toss them up like confetti and all things ordinary blur as you flutter down.

Protected by Copyscape DMCA Copyright Protection

The Nature of Water Cycling on Earth


By Kaitlin Schmidt

Passions and grievances condense into wet words and they coagulate;
puddle poems.
Too often unwritten. Sublimation is rare.
The pressure of expectations and the heat of judgment evaporate them –
and as vapor they soar upwards as prayers.
The skies steam up and rain on us again.

Protected by Copyscape DMCA Copyright Protection

He Gives Me Religion


By Kaitlin Schmidt

Heart dances like a shaker

Love as clean as a Quaker

When he returns to me, the 2nd coming.

Frozen in place like the meditating Buddhist

Several stiff kisses from the lips of Judas

The whole farce droned over by Gregorian humming.

The Lutheran in you nails up my 95 flaws
The Pagan in me boils feathers and claws
And like the Vatican we try to keep it all under the fleece.

I check my Mayan calendar for end

Forgive me sir, for I knowingly sinned

and like a Mennonite, I never stop praying for peace.

Protected by Copyscape DMCA Copyright Protection

Sugar Ants


 By Kaitlin Schmidt

It occurred to me today, (so long ago)
that you are a bit like the sugar ants that
crawl across my grandmother’s kitchen counter.
Let me tell you about them.

She never could keep them out.

During the dry months
when the heat breeds heavy hopelessness in the air,
the ants scuttle in to escape it.
In, in, in from the house’s every seam
from between the blonde trim and the wall
from behind a loose outlet cover
easiest of all, from a windowsill.
They have no mass no limits nothing slows them.
They are minute dots, black wisps in my vision as they explore
the cool white porcelain sink. They like it there, I think.