Miranda Schmidt


Orpheus sings
and you feel yourself
solidify in lightning,
a liquid kind
of fire.

There is a secret in the lines for you,
a liminal listening you can understand now
whispered in the dark dawn hum of air.
It’s all about the sinking in
to white places,
to the empty left behind,
the dead fictions that we keep
remaking in your image
retelling them into
your absence:
living gods remolding
the dead with our ribs.

your breathing stopped twice before
it stopped for good
and that vein in your neck pulsed
so insistent and small
the last part of you that we saw

in the crematorium I could have sworn I saw you move I could have sworn I saw you breathing shifting smile I could have

wanted to give you everything
and so drove
your car into the parking lot and
brought your purse and filled your wallet
just in case you need
it where you’re going
where you are

believed you would ghost us
your voice coming out of the walls
your hands reaching out from our dreams

and your eyes looking in
knowing what
you only guessed

but there is only this stark white space missing
your ghost is a nothing
the presence
of absence

Orpheus sings
remaking his love in a tune
with all the joints wrong
and the features cartooned:
higher-cheek-boned, smaller-nosed, kinder-eyed.
But I think it was she who looked back into
the dim grey dark
of Hades
so deeply gone its almost white.
And life was so much

There is Eurydice longing into
the quiet of the self-negating love
that burns you out and
ghosts you bright and

Here is her Orpheus who
still can’t stop

Miranda Schmidt’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Collagist, Phoebe, Luna Station Quarterly, Driftwood Press, and other journals. Miranda grew up in the Midwest and now lives with her partner and two cats in Portland, Oregon where she edits the Sun Star Review, teaches at Portland Community College, and occasionally blogs about books at mirandaschmidt.com. A graduate of the University of Washington’s MFA program and a 2017 Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow, Miranda recently completed a novel about haunting and is currently at work on a project inspired by shapeshifting fairy tales.