WHERE I WAS BORN, by Katie Schmid

Katie Schmid is a poet living in Lincoln, NE. Her chapbook, Forget Me, Hit Me, Let Me Drink Great Quantities of Clear, Evil Liquor, is available at Split Lip Press.


My mother was big and pregnant with me
in the elevator when a man went for her,

teeth bared like a dog. All he wanted:
someone to give him the end of the world.

She screamed so loud she birthed my father
from the shower, who slipped down

the hallway of the apartment, too late—
she screamed so loud she disappeared the man.

The first world is the mother. The second
is the mother’s scream. It is where I was born.

Does every mother believe they push their child
out into Babylon? Does every mother know

she births a death? The world ends at the silence
of women. White sheets crisp on the line.

I watch the cops split open the bodies
and put their hands on the star matter:

what was most hidden, most holy.
I hone my mouth against a whetstone.

Decay foams in the corpse of a field mouse.
The woman falls pregnant. The body is not

intelligible: its holy mystery does not belong
to anyone. I am growing—I wanted to say as

fat as the moon, but I am too old to still believe
anyone finds my body sacred. If I believe

my body is not cherished, a flowering: my debt
to other discarded bodies grows. My wounds

grow. My decay grows. My child grows. She turns
inside of me. Her body is a scream in the dark.