By Eva Schiffer

Sedimentary Rock

Ground up experiences,
suspended as long as the water
is moving, disturbing its longing
to rest, to settle,
grain into grain,
carrying but an echo
of the sense the old rock
used to make,
before it gave in
to the water.
Layer upon layer
of matter and time.
Sedimentary Rock.

First sense

Where does
my skin end,
do my barnacles start?
I feel their weight, their
drag, as they go about
their barnacle business,
while I go about mine.
Do they thicken my skin
or smother it,
until there is nothing left
to the touch?


Take duty
for meaning.
Schedule it tightly
to remember your weight,
hold any chaos
thrown at you.
Fill the cracks
by making yourself useful.
Who would question that?
Don’t pause.
Don’t let the sediment settle,
you won’t know
what will be
waiting for you
in the clear.

7 a.m.

When you don’t feel inspired,
Set a timer,
run up and down 
the scales or stairs,
listen to build your ears
like muscles.
Punch your indifference 
into blues chords to
get them under your fingers,
that may wake up again
one day, furless blind
animals with a
tactile mind of their own.


My arms
slipped away from me.
I can’t find
my legs.
The sharp pain in
my thumb
pierces like an alarm,
calls me to catch that missing
with what?
I wonder, as
my hands
lead the escape
like flesh colored spiders.
I bought a book
about the body
maybe that will help me trace
my shins.


Always picking on someone
my own size,
using my finest brush
to decorate Lebkuchen,
to lower them in a basket
from my second floor window,
tending to my
undeniably small garden
that won’t disappoint,
with bright yellow flowers and
three long cucumbers.
Creating something precious
from nearly nothing.
Let me not try,
let me not
as hard as I can,
let me not
find out
what is possible
and what

The shape of my soul

A day like this
shrinks my lungs
to half capacity.
Nothing happened
that is of note,
nothing happened.
My lungs:
two angel wings
made of wet air
inside my chest.
I used to think
that was the shape
of my soul,
the pulsating outside
inside of me,
that I will
breathe out
when this
is done.

Eva Schiffer is a German in Washington DC, where she writes, bakes, gardens, thinks and works in international development.

2 thoughts on “Sedimentary Rock and Other Poems

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