Abecedarian Examining Why I Am Not an Addict

Anna Sheppard


Another magnolia leaf, another Monday, another malignant
bedside where we wish my aunt’s body, caving into slough,
could be more than track mark armies
drudging the frontline of her wrists, all mud, all
evening spent breaking in half. I already tried understanding the buck
following his tired path back to my neighbor’s
garden every alternating sunrise, the lovesick
hole he chews in her hydrangea, bullets spent wondering
if he’ll ever learn. One day she’ll hang his
jagged antlers over her fireplace, not pride at
killing him, pride at knowing she didn’t have to,
like how my uncle jumps from woman to woman,
martyrs who keep offing themselves for nothing.
Not that I’m any better, but I can’t find anything that’ll last and I don’t think
open caskets have anything to do with it. This is more than another
poem promising quitting like it’s a
quilt you can pull over your eyes whenever I
return to some stranger’s garden, because I never
saw the garden, never craved the chrysanthemums.
Try finding another girl who wants to be an addict but can’t, who,
under the rainfall of burnt foliage from her family tree,
vied for a place in the forest of her mothers,
wanting only proof that she’d been born to the right bloodline,
X-chromosomes weaving into some solid shape that
yields to nothing, or everything, depending on where you see
Zion or how far you see yourself driving out of it.



ANNA SHEPPARD is a senior at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. She has won numerous awards in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and her work is published or forthcoming in The Adroit Journal and Teenage Wasteland Review. She was a runner up in the Skylark Poetry Contest and in the Muriel Avellaneda Prize for Young Poets. She loves crime TV shows unironically and spends most of her time wishing she was with her twin sister.