5 Poems by Elizabeth Mitchell



On a night when you existed but did not exist, I pulled you from the sky.
On a grassy hill I gathered the stillness around me, filling my eyes
with the dragonflies of night. I invited your presence, the dark
wash of your jeans, gleaming buttons of your shirt. Our bodies
phantasms of light. Our noses
traced the quiet brilliance of constellations, our palms
turned together towards the earth.
You asked me “Do I know you?” and “Where can I find you?,”
but my heart's only answer was “yes.”

On a night where I existed but did not exist, you
brought me to the base of a mountain.
You lying there in the freshly sawn grass.
Your eyes were so familiar, your voice
a lullaby I had slept to for years. Above us
the spirits laughed and glinted as we'd never seen them before.
Our whispers that night made love to the whispers of the night.
A love of listening to your words, our laughter blended into the crickets.

And what to do with this fire that breathes
only on nights where we do not exist.

A Room of Painted Ladies

in this room are deer
and a river creeping up the wall,
where newts and northern leopards leap,
each splash a breath.

the wings of painted ladies,
their fire and black, their light
and silt settling on our heads
folding and unfolding over daises.

it does not rain here
nor is there cold,
an endless spring creeps
into fall and returns

orange flames of leaves
where we rest
together each night,
the sky lit with planets.

my hair, a long throw of curls
to warm us in the night
as our bodies cup
the earth beneath
this gnarled bough.

Once in a Blue Moon

should be a flavor of ice cream, which drips
down your chin, vanilla and something
sweetly familiar, yet unexpectedly out of place,
a flavor that doesn’t quite make sense,
but that you keep eating anyway.

There are multiple ways to end a sentence or
one could keep it going, still
you’d rather have an end, but maybe the end
is never really the end, the period
an invitation to something again,
some word against another’s tongue
waiting for the correct shape to give it being.

Our Neighbors Are Not Happy People

Into the quiet evening his voice yells,
“I’m the one in control,” and she responds
with silence, her hand on brass doorknob.
“Have a good time,” he tells her. And yet
how can anyone have a good time after that.

When I anger you to the rare moment your voice rises,
I am ashamed. This rage inside of me
overwhelming. “It is this crazy job,” I tell you.
And you believe me, but you still don’t think
it should affect me this much.
“Let it go,” you say. But I can’t.

The ceiling splinters under the weight
of two running children. On Saturdays,
erratic sounds emerge from the keyboard above our heads.
I laugh at the absurdity of “My Heart Will Go On”
at 9 in the morning and cannot fall back asleep.

When I have hurt you
with a slew of slippery words,
it takes hours, days, to return to that peace,
for you to feel safe again.

One afternoon, a rare explosion of my neighbor's voice.
His Arabic, her silence, their baby crying beneath my feet.
They moved soon after that, drilling beneath us,
unscrewing their lives from the walls.


If you meet yourself on an empty street,
eyes slapping your face like the wind,
do not turn away. Gaze into the eyes of
this stranger of different circumstance
who is you from a different life.

If your other self rejects your existence,
remember, there are only two of you
in this world. (Though there may be more.)
But it is rare to find yourself
in the body of another.

Cling to this other self
even when they walk away from your life.
It is you clinging to you that is not you.
It is you clinging to your whisper,
your mind, your breath.


Elizabeth Mitchell grew up in Detroit, MI and calls southeast Michigan home. She teaches poetry to high school students through the InsideOut Literary Arts Project and builds websites. Her poetry can be found in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. She enjoys water and water birds. http://emitche.github.io/