February 1, 2009

Lit by Chicks

Joyeaux Noel

by Heather Ann Schmidt

Celine stands behind the counter
at Le Petit Prince, a patisserie,
on the corner
of 14 Mile and Pierce
in the old neighborhood
where I make my yearly trek
to buy gateaux and cookies
for Christmas.

Men and women come in
and speak to her in French
like they have for the past 40 years
ordering brioche and buche de noel
for parties.
“Joyeaux Noel,” she says
as they leave.
My son touches the glass display

She smiles
and I try to distract him.
I ask for the delicately painted snowmen
for the childrenʼs stockings on
Christmas morning,
trying to put pieces of my past
into their lives.

I remember walking six blocks
from home
to the corner to get mille feuille,
many layers to cover
my school dress,
something to do
while I waited for Dad
to come home.

I would sneak it in my room
and hide it in my closet
because it had alcohol in it
and good Presbyterian girls
didnʼt drink or write poetry
about making love to their boyfriends
by the duck pond
on a blanket under ash trees.

The only evidence that remained-
calligraphy ink on my fingers
and a burning in my throat.

Heather Ann Schmidt is on staff at Oakland Community College where she tutors students in writing and ESL. She is also the editor of tinfoildresses, a poetry journal. Her poetry has been featured in publications such as Word Catalyst Magazine, The Shine Journal, The Orange Room Review, Pennsylvania English and Hanging Moss Journal, among others. Heather lives in Waterford, Michigan and can be reached via MySpace. Her chapbook, Chasing Lou Hoover, is now available from recycled karma press.