Laura Schaeffer

If This, Then


there are strawberries to be eaten.


In a refrigerator, a pound of butter,

cheddar cheese, raspberry yogurt,


and I am misspelling again

on my list of things to acquire,


abbreviations and grapes.

I think of dairy cows grazing.


From there I think of pastures,

and around them, sloping posts with barbed wire.


I think of sunlight and exaggerations;

see for yourself how loose they hang.


A cow’s eyes don’t make a statement,

but a question not to be bothered with


as the jaw swings left to right.

I’ve begun to stutter, mispronounce


as if I am speaking out from a cud

in swell and sway.


If I had a pasture instead of a refrigerator,

then there would be no need


all day, chewing answers indifferently

in soft, limp photosynthesis.


Flies in the eye, hard hoof,

enough space between dandelions


without need to open a pickle jar

using two hands.


But you wrote stroke on paper

before falling down stairs,


and I’ve since picked up green beans

that had fallen to the floor.


One. Two. Three. Four…


Days of Eden


There you were by the willow we named

one crushed daisy underfoot

and hair that had never been cut falling over your breasts.


All we could hear were birds.

All the light was a silence we could break

with just a move or motion of smile.


We had few words in a garden that stretched further

than we could ever see. The surprise of each other’s voices

echoed off the bark of created things.


Your form adorned the day more than color.

A body mine and not mine.

I followed you, hidden as a snake.


Peaches on a branch burn with ripeness

and the wonder of sunsets, clothed in leaves

is a brilliant joy, a sweet fuzziness.


I have watched you at sleep before

beneath the willow’s tentative hand and the lengthy

shadows darkening us.

Breaking the silence, I move always closer

wanting to wake you—

say a name I do not know.


Redrawing the Company I Keep


The white circle was drawn in black ink.

(Let me start over…)


With black ink, I draw a white circle in space.

At first, I see the space growing.


It is hard to keep up, to round back the dark,

though it becomes thinner and not like


forever, where things get lost.

There are three people between Mars and Pluto,


standing upright without any ground.

It is between time without hands that point,


the long and short uneven dial

blocked by light. I only sense a gravel road.


In space, we think there is void,

but it is not true.


We think silence is silent

when it hums incessantly in a foreign air.


I chose a mother to pull up weeds,

I chose a sister to dig up clams,


and if that wasn’t enough to befriend territory,

another sister to rein in her horse.


They were wearing white gowns,

which I hated because it made them invisible


except for their faces, laughing faces

that seemed to look over a badminton net,


waiting and ready for the return

red rubber volley.


They dropped their hand tools

and the horse galloped wildly toward me,


a black-and-white body

that swung his mane with a nod,


turned backside, bowed his neck,

and crunched the full light


of thistle and shell.




Laura Schaeffer’s poetry has been published in The Pitkin Review, Tidepools, Ars Poetica, Currents, Poetry Corners, Pif Magazine, Collective Visions Gallery, and The Far Field. She is a graduate of Goddard College’s MFA Creative Writing Program and received her undergraduate degree in English/Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Laura has taught workshops to alumni during the annual winter conferences and led a six-month poetry class for at-risk youths. She attended the Centrum Writers Conference on a full scholarship and recently participated in a six-week writing workshop led by a previous program director at Goddard College. Laura enjoys continuing her studies of religions, philosophy, and international poets.