Jan Zlotnik Schmidt

There were no bright stars in the night
My father told me he saw dreams in clouds.
There was no moon in the night
My father told me he touched its rays.
There was no wind in the night
My father told me leaves stirred like whispers.
There was no rain in the night
My father told me rain was the keening of the planets.
And there was no night
On the day my father told me
He breathed in words like air.
There were no constellations in the night
When my dog’s shadow was a dark second self
There was no moonlight in the night when
The shadow hovered next to me.
There was no memory in the night
When shadow and stars merged
And a half moon a pastel-print in the half lit sky
Led me back to my father’s words that floated in the night.


JAN ZLOTNIK SCHMIDT: Presently she is a SUNY Distinguished Professor of English at SUNY New Paltz where she teaches composition, creative writing, American and Women’s Literature, creative nonfiction, memoir, and Holocaust literature courses. Her work has been published in many journals including The Cream City Review, Kansas Quarterly, The Alaska Quarterly Review, Home Planet News, Phoebe, Black Buzzard Review, The Chiron Review, Memoir(and), The Westchester Review, and Wind. Her work also has been nominated for the Pushcart Press Prize Series. She has had two volumes of poetry published by the Edwin Mellen Press (We Speak in Tongues, 1991; She had this memory, 2000). Recently one chapbook, The Earth Was Still, was published by Finishing Line Press and another one, “Hieroglyphs of Father-Daughter Time,” was published by Word Temple Press.