Green Hills Literary Lantern

To the Dust


She came out four months early, toes first.

Doctor said her heart just stopped beating

but you couldn’t tell by looking at her.

She was calm, laid out like Play-doh

on my mother’s palm. It was as if God

had pinched her a nose and dotted her eyes

but forgot to make them move.

Each bone of each finger wrapped

in ligament and flesh. Pale blue lips

a bit small, but there.


We don’t talk about my sister often.

When we reconvene for the holidays

and joke about the family being all male

except for me, I pretend to laugh with them.

But I can see my mother, fork twisting

the spaghetti years back to before I was born,

the little lump of clay buried under the ground.



Philip Schaefer graduated from Truman State University in 2008 as a philosophy major. He has written creative non-fiction for several newspapers and a travel website, but has shifted his focus in the past few months to poetry. This is his first published poem, but hopefully not his last. He currently resides in Chicago.