BY ANNA SHEPPARD
South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities, ’16
2016 Adroit Prize for Poetry: Editors’ List
The runaway child bride’s punk band
never took off and I still don’t know
how to feel about it. Not that I blame her
but where’s my escape, my exodus,
when do I get to act like more than the dog
you left buried in your backyard that autumn
I put your old albums in a box, dropped them
in an open hatchback, wished for some sign
from the gods that would stop your leaving.
It’s just that school bus drowning in Jacob’s
Quarry, I don’t know how I’d climb out of it,
how I’d get there, how to stop my daydreams
from always choking on each other.
Will they ever stop being about somewhere else
or will I just stop pretending to know what somewhere else’s
air tastes like? Maybe this week’s rain can
be gathered in buckets, maybe a man in town will find
some storm cloud to pour it into, maybe I can stop
pretending to blame you. When a koi fish
lighter turns up in my treehouse I’ll say it isn’t yours.
When you carve a face in a tree in the middle of Appalachia
you’ll say it’s mine, sap leaking golden
from the irises like the water in the penny fountain
I still haven’t heard back from. One day they’ll bury
you there and I can’t even be mad at you for it.
Tonight I’ll fall asleep praying to someone I don’t
believe in anymore, Dear God, make me a river, make me
a highway, make me a storm headed north so
I may fall down in pieces into the broken
fingers of that dreamt-up mountainside.