I’m in a white dress. It’s dirty. I go for walks

in the peach orchard and pretend the trees are my friends.

The pretending doesn’t seem like pretending.

I’m wet and salty and when I feel my skin burning, I walk home.

I’m dirtier than before. Look at my nails. I’m hungry.


Inside the farmhouse, the air is cool. The water I pour myself is cooler.

I drink it at the oak table and smoke. I don’t eat because I know

if I hold off, I will get drunk quicker later. I stare out the bay window

at the elm leaves. A sea of green. There’s wind.


It is night. I drink red wine and become pregnant with

an old lover’s baby. I dance, knife in hand, and at my

movement’s climax, stab my belly. I feel no pain. Instead

I feel ecstatic.


Upstairs I’m in bed with the lights off. Smoking in the center of

my dirty dress. I am my dirty dress. I listen to the coyotes howl

on the distant tracks. They are calling to far off trains. Come.

An ancestor approaches and kisses my ear, strokes my hair.

Puts my cigarette out.



Elizabeth Schmuhl’s work appears or is forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Pank, Big Lucks, Birkensnake, Paper Darts and elsewhere. She illustrates essays for The Rumpus and makes small movement films. Find her online at elizabethschmuhl.com.

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