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2020 Poetry

Isabelle Shepherd

BANQUET, SIXTEENTH OF SEPTEMBER

to Régina’s boys—Paul, Raymond, and René Magritte

What a thing, to see
the sun in front of the oak grove.

You test out new words, dealing—

a new bed and no longer
afraid to sleep at night.

The moon in front of the tree
and the mind, unknown.

The image, too. Memory—

a bell ringing, a drying flower.
To have seen what you could not have seen—

the way a body breaks itself in mercy.
All love is unrequited to a degree, which is to say

there is no ​there there​,
at least not in the sense of space.

No matter what she promised.


MY FATHER’S ASHES IN THE ATLANTIC

I cannot get the cloying taste of saltwater taffy out of my mouth.

—Anger is a second emotion,
lying over the first like a lover.

My mother tells me to take her
to the top of a mountain,
leave her to the bears.

Nothing left but bones, then ash—

a dash thrown into the ocean like raw sugar in my tea.


Isabelle Shepherd is a poet from West Virginia. She now lives in Wilmington, NC, where she received her MFA from UNCW. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, The Journal, Ninth Letter, Redivider, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. More of her work and upcoming reading dates can be found on www.isabelleshepherd.com.