October 22, 2017

The Past

by Katie Schmid

I admit I want it to be like a William Eggleston photo,
straight-ironed hair, imperfect teeth filtered through

late-70s light: rare light only a thick layer of smog could
have produced. I admit to wanting to be able to feign

ignorance, to have the excuse of not knowing any better:
ignorance a kind of safety. Throw out the batteries,

pour the oil into the drain. Dance in the mist from the DDT
truck, grow slick and beautiful, grow extra toes, win all

the swim meets, kiss girls under the humidity. I want it
to be like memory: careful, curated, warm as my memory

of the laundromat, where my mother and I went every
Sunday to do the clothes, the light always warm through

the plate glass window, where it fell on my math homework,
my mother chatting to the attendant who had a limp.

They became friends. They knew each other’s pain.
I was shy. I hid behind a book. We’d go across the street

to eat Chinese food, the booths red and pulsing, slick
and sticky like hearts. My mother drawing the small bills

from her wallet as if drawing a thorn from her wounded hand.
Almond cookies dipped in strong black tea. You had to time it

just right so the whole thing wouldn’t crumble.


Katie Schmid‘s poetry and essays have been published in The Rumpus, Quarterly West, Best New Poets and Sycamore Review, among other places. Her chapbook, “Forget Me, Hit Me, Let Me Drink Great Quantities of Clear, Evil Liquor,” is available from Split Lip Press. www.katieschmid.net.