Lynne Schmidt is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, and mental health professional with a focus in trauma and healing. She is the winner of the 2020 New Women’s Voices Contest and author of the chapbooks, Dead Dog Poems (Finishing Line Press), Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press) which was listed as one of the 17 Best Breakup Books to Read in 2020, and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West), which was featured on The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed for PTSD Awareness Week.In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.
My Puppy and My Mother
After being bitten in leg during the cross fire, severely enough the bruise swells and I can’t sit properly for two weeks, my mother begs me to take my nine month old puppy to a shelter. She cautions that she’s too wild too untamed, too...much for me to handle. And that, maybe she would do better with someone (anyone) else. She cautions that the puppy will kill my other dog, who deserves a better life than these transgressions. I know she just needs time, I know she just needs love before she settles into a good dog. My mother takes the time to illustrate all the ways in which my puppy is a threat or failure. I think about the ways my sisters and I used to fight when we were children, I wonder if that’s why my mother got rid of us the way someone would step away from an unruly dog.
My sister’s husband tells her to stop running at the park. I think he’s trying to control her, like that time she said she had to ask permission to get a tattoo. He says it isn’t safe. She says, she’s been running there for months. Eventually, she relents and finds a different route. I get the call two days later, her voice is shaking when she says they found a body, a runner, same hair color, same height, similar clothes, a woman in the same running shoes. She tells me she ran the trail the day before.
When she says I need pruning, she makes it sound like we will be cutting away the dead parts to make room for the new. She makes it sound like this needs to be done out of love and her hands will be tender. But what she means is my tongue has become the ailing bud. It needs to be cut out, my hands must be bound, and my body put on trial. She wants me to confess to sins I committed in my last life, the one before the repotting before the first real bloom. She wants me to chafe my knees on carpet in penitence because it or I will never be clean. My roots are sickly, she says. My branches barren. She wants to exercise the demon in me, not caring if it wraps his hands around the trunk of my tree, and collapses my windpipe in the process. I could be martyred outside Main Street, made Saint in the Church. I could stop existing for a time, and my sister, she will always see my reflection in the dirt.