an empty room

once, women swallowed dead nettle,
bitter buttons, pennyroyal, chamomile

a fable unraveled, a feeble new moon
then fragile raw ruin, chamber silence—

now, dilation and a curette,
a filter, a cast net

like hair caught in briars and combs,
strands waving in drains to decipher

an open window, a handkerchief quiver—
corroded chiffon, lacerated gauze

barely an outline, sunken shiver


Isabelle Shepherd is an MFA candidate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She was runner-up for the 2015 Pinch Literary Award, and her poems have appeared in TinderboxConnotation Press, and Occupoetry.