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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.

 

 

Anna Sheppard is a senior in the creative writing department at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts & Humanities. Her work has received recognition from the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and has previously appeared in Teenage Wasteland Review. She has been named a runner-up for the Muriel Avellaneda Prize for Young Writers and for the Skylark Poetry Prize. She likes the coast and her twin sister.