Two poems by Lynne Schmidt • Empty Mirror

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When My Sister Calls

My sister calls to ask me
“Why would my dog be bleeding from
his mouth?”

She asks me because I am a dog person.
She asks me because I have a degree in medical biology
and a life ago planned to become a veterinarian.

She asks me
because I am a black hole of grief,
and I so on cue, I tell her
she has to find where the blood
is coming from.

She doesn’t call me for two days.
Doesn’t follow up to tell me what she’s found
and in the absence of my phone ringing I know
in the way you know.

She puts him down four days later.

Her husband says it was a tumor.
Her son calls me sobbing
gasping for breath saying,
This must have been how it felt when you lost yours.

Beautiful Is

a trophy.

A dead deer carcass hanging from a tree
waiting for its antlers to be cut from its head
to adorn your wall.
When people come to visit they’ll comment

Must have been a beaut,
And you will beam with your consumption

While the meat decomposes in the driveway.

Beautiful is a shiny piece of metal on a bookshelf that collects dust.
Occasionally, you’ll shine when someone asks and
you’ll talk about your accomplishments in middle school, high school, some other time that isn’t
right now, and honestly doesn’t matter anymore.

Beautiful is a strong muscular dog
in the center of a ring
tearing apart another being for your entertainment.
When the fight ends,
he might not survive
but for those thirty seconds
he was yours
and people will congratulate you
because he was such a beautiful boy.

Beautiful is a bride in her wedding dress
having starved for the last month to produce the perfect fit,
another girl on your arm
who spent hours in front of a mirror.

Beautiful is to be seen and not heard
to carefully measure the tone of voice, volume of delivery, weight of words.

To take the time to decorate but never remember to dust.

And then you wonder why
I flinch when you say my dog is beautiful
and grind my teeth.

And then you wonder why
I refuse to be called beautiful
when I’d rather be brilliant.

Lynne Schmidt

Lynne Schmidt is a mental health professional and an award-winning poet and memoir author who also writes young adult fiction. She is the author of the chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West). Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne is a five time 2019 Best of the Net Nominee, and an honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski Poetry Award. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.

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