Elizabeth Schmuhl


The body is not a temple but the swimming pool of my dreams, where cells are the stars that go in and out, shooting and far flinging toward their own deaths, the place where I am born and hum because what else is there in life but movement? The body is not a temple so the funeral will have to be held somewhere else, perhaps in the green hills of Vermont where a pebbled stream cuts through the meadow, and I will be that stream and watch all the butterflies and insects buzzing above me as I pick up speed and eventually, one day I’ll travel far enough and blend with a bigger body of water, perhaps finally become the ocean of my dreams filled with all the seahorses and all the sea stars and all the coral that will keep me smiling for centuries. Or maybe it will be in an orchard and I will be the arrowhead buried under the soft meaty ground, and all of my relatives will be walking above me eating peaches, the juice dripping from their hands onto the warm sand seeping down under until it finds me and makes me sticky because ancestors have a way of keeping you from forgetting they’ll always be around. But the body is not a temple, it is a doorway or the blossom above which I’m hovering and collecting pollen because all my brothers and sisters are hungry so I’m flying to feed them, flying over the orchard, over the Vermont stream, in fact, I am buzzing above myself, moving up and moving out to the heavens to see up close the little suns that make up me. They are themselves a type of fruit and as I said my siblings are hungry, I’m hungry, and I know where to find food and how to feed, how to eat, and I know that the body is not a temple but a lighthouse and I will follow the light inside me, follow the light because If I don’t, it will be black and a light that goes black is worse than death, worse than no ceremony, it means the desire to move has vanished and then the body becomes a temple and that is not a life worth living but a life made of museums and other artificial buildings, and the body is not a temple which is why I want to live in the light, want to be warmed, sun-kissed, want to be filled with energy please, let me be in the light.

Elizabeth Schmuhl is a writer and dance maker whose work appears or is forthcoming in [PANK], theNewerYork, Birkensnake, Michigan Quarterly Review and elsewhere. She also illustrates essays for The Rumpus.