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Rosie Shepperd
Rosie Shepperd

Rosie Shepperd is studying for a PhD at Glamorgan University. Her poems have been published in a wide range of magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, including Poetry London, Poetry Ireland Review, Rialto, Ambit, Agenda, Smiths Knoll, Rialto, The shoPThe Seminary Review and Poetry & Audience. She has won the Liverpool University Ted Walters Poetry Prize, was a finalist in the Manchester Poetry Prize, came second in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition last year and she was shortlisted for the 2014 Forward Prize for best single poem.

Rosie Shepperd Poetry


Somewhere I read that a thought can be exaggerated, while an emotion cannot

 

The chef at Suntory considers sea-bream for (maybe) ten seconds.

                                He selects Yellow-fin with absurd red flesh,

                  smiles at the silver scales;

                                the dark lines on her back

                                                smile back.

 

You’re late and I flick through The Trib, spy a piece on fish scales.

                They grow flat, only on skin;

                                in the lab they form prisms.

                                                Beyond any meaningful depth,

                 3D is unnecessary and unhelpful.

 

It’s gone again, that so-easy thing we had for each other.

 

Unwrapping chopsticks takes forever. I reach for the gold hashioki,

                                you lean yours against your plate,

                watch as a sous-chef with extraordinary hands

                                                                mixes fine green wasabi with Tokusen;

                                folds shavings of pink ginger into tiny glazed bowls.

 

                Strangers sit opposite us and next to us, and we incline our heads

                                together and at each other, bound by this thing,

this art form we’re watching. Water chestnuts become flowers, strips

                of squid are stencilled, fanned into a helix of white,

                                                thrown into clouds of sesame.

 

Don’t worry; the toughest question is not aimed at you.

 

 

Published in Ambit and in The North

 

 

 

Lizard

 

The wife of a retired dentist from Antwerp

cooks chicken on Sundays. In November

she brings out V-neck sweaters

that protect him from chest infections.

He will choose the light grey and may not remember

which of the teal or the red he should wear.

.

The wife of the retired dentist

prepares soup from the gizzard,

adds thyme and two leaves from a bay

that grows by the gazebo.

He pulled the cutting on holiday;

a week by the Aubette or the Alzette.

 

The dentist remembers a garden, or a hotel.

A man, Pierre perhaps or Philippe,

nodded and told how the green from that tree

would be sweet and the sharp white berries

should be dried. Lay them in layers of paper, keep

them clean and warm. Monsieur, all will be well.

 

The wife of the retired dentist from Antwerp

sees his face rise to the sun. His round eyes are resting,

almost smiling, thinking of  plates

of pale almonds, the pastries they ate

by the roadside, on squares of white napkin.

Or was it soft cheese, fresh and shining with whey?

 

There was a terrace of cracked creamy slabs;

some stone of the region. And didn’t he lean on a carving

as they spotted canoes, cutting

straight lines through curves in the water.

A dozen boys from Cadiz; a party

of cadets perhaps from l’Academie.

 

They pitched on boards, crouching with cold

their hands reached up to a bar

nailed to the side of the boat. Ici

Tiens. Ici. Attention, mes fils.

Up they went and over, the river poured

from their hair, their eyes and their lips. Arrêtez! Encore! Encore!

 

The wife of the retired dentist

watches three inches of lizard. So fine, it is almost

a crack in the rock. She considers the stillness

of her left hand. The lizard nudges and catches the heat.

It stares from eyes that are endless, circled

in white. Quick as a spot it changes its skin from smoke

to black to sand. A pulse is the smallest

                                                                                tick-tock, tick-tock.

 

 

First published in Rialto

 

 

 

I know I’ve gone too far when I think of papardelle with broccoli

 

It comes on just under a minute later that I miss you; that hollow feeling

                when I remember you’re not here.

 

I have to go downstairs, cook flat, yellow ribbons made almost too long

                with OO flour and eggs

 

from Puglia chickens, enjoying themselves and, I hope, walking through

                fat fields where the grass is

 

tough and rich, almost deliberately salted from the Adriatic that silently

                seeps into the land just there.

 

I bathe the noodles in fontina, melted into crème fraîche and think

                how you called it sour cream.

 

It doesn’t matter and would not matter to you that you didn’t

                like this dish, but even as I warm

 

your favourite bowl, I smile at my final stab, add purple sprouting

                broccoli, diagonally cut.

 

You might like the colours, the way the steam holds the flavour,

                of Alpine milk and the bitter

 

black pepper that falls in so many pieces like sand or gravel or ash.

                I think we’re OK for salt and I’ll

 

keep the idea of finely dried thyme, a splash of hock or just nutmeg

                and/or butter for next time.


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