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Charms and Red Silk, a Poem by Nora Shepard

by | Jun 13, 2023

(Marguerite Williams photo)

I’ve pulled the red silk dress, his favorite,
from the cavern of the armoire whose mirrors
contort all of my shapes as I tunnel
through the skirt, the armholes, to pop
through the neck, coifed and wide-eyed
like a gopher from his ground hole. I would check
my length of slip in his silent gaze, but he’s
been blind for years to the backs of my knees,
my breasts uplifted in their awkward under-wire.

I no longer know the moves that once
caught his attention, disturbed his thoughts.
Face powders, lipsticks, creams and lotions
clattered off my shelves years ago.

No one to mention moonlight anymore—
its silver’s dries on my cheeks like tears.

Once we read in unison, pages stilled
by his steady hand, but now I sing hymns
with a cracked voice and not enough light to see
the words I once knew by heart. My book
of prayers is well thumbed, spotted and ringed
by solitary cups of tea. Readers of tea-leaves
are welcome here. Tell me —prayer, spell

or conjurations. I’m here. I listen. I hear even a soundless
disturbance in the air. But never his step on the stairs.

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