Reginald Shepherd

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Reginald Shepherd

Poet and editor Reginald Shepherd was born in New York City in 1963 and grew up in the Bronx. After earning his BA from Bennington College, Shepherd studied at Brown University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three titles, Some Are Drowning, Otherhood, and Fata Morgana received wide critical acclaim. He received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, and many other honors. He died in 2008.

You, Therefore

—for Robert Philen

You are like me, you will die too, but not today:

you, incommensurate, therefore the hours shine:

if I say to you “To you I say,” you have not been

set to music, or broadcast live on the ghost

radio, may never be an oil painting or

Old Master’s charcoal sketch: you are

a concordance of person, number, voice,

and place, strawberries spread through your name

as if it were budding shrubs, how you remind me

of some spring, the waters as cool and clear

(late rain clings to your leaves, shaken by light wind),

which is where you occur in grassy moonlight:

and you are a lily, and aster, white trillium

or viburnum, by all rights mine, white star

in the meadow sky, the snow still arriving

from its earthwards journeys, here where there is

no snow (I dreamed the snow was you,

where there was snow), you are my right,

have come to be my night (your body takes on

the dimensions of sleep, the shape of sleep

becomes you): and you fall from the sky

with several flowers, words spill from your mouth

in waves, your lips taste like the sea, salt-sweet (trees

and seas have flown away, I call it

loving you): home is nowhere, therefore you,

a kind of dwell and welcome, song after all,

and free of any eden we can name



Reading with George O’Brien | March 23, 2000