Tuesdays; For Ophelias; Motherland; Backyards and BBQs; House Guests


You bought sunflower seeds, 
planted one for each of us. 
I watched you weed them 
until they grew four feet. 

But still you kept trimming, 
staking, pruning—even when 
their petals wilted.

I don’t answer your calls anymore, 
and you stopped leaving messages. 
But today I bought a bundle 
of sunflowers at the store. 

	(they gave me joy; is that a betrayal?) 

As I cut them down 
to the perfect size, 
tossed out the odious stems, 
I wondered what you ate
for breakfast that morning. 
For Ophelias

A dress for her, 
a smile for him. 

My sadness a soliloquy
I sing for them.

Was even my vulnerability 
a performance just for you?

So many facades, 
they form an empty circle.  

You gave me buckets and buckets
and I tried to hold it, 
tried to swim or sail. 

But all I felt was scrabbling nails, 
water through my fingers. 

My hands can’t grasp your hollow heed,
can’t return your slippery sadness 
to your closed arms. 

I was drowning 
‘til I learned to breathe water. 
And now I can no 
longer live on land. 
Backyards and BBQs 

I will be 50 years old 
when I have lived as long 
without your violence 
as I have with it. 

Half a century and only half 
without your power; 
I still worry the whole 
with its consequences.  

I might have a kid or two. 
They might be in college 
or working 
or have their own kids. 

And hopefully I will have 
a backyard.
And hopefully it will have 
no shadows.

I think it will be nice 
to warm my weathered 
skin by its sun, 
and think of that kid or two 
or the dishes that need rinsing 
or 401ks or inviting the neighbors 
over for a BBQ. 

It will be peaceful – 
and it will only take 
half a century.
House Guests

It is so crowded—
full of their words, 
their silences, 
           my dusty dreams.

They fight for space, 
	I concede—
                 my needs just flinching shadows. 

        I should’ve outgrown
the domineering guests, 
the quiet, destructive ones. 

        But if I were to kick them
	to the curb, 
say, “Don’t let the door hit you—”

         Will the quiet swallow me? 
Or worse—
         let me be.


Photography Credit: Jason Rice

Isabelle Mongeau is a writer and graduate of University of Cambridge, UK, where she received an MA in creative writing. Her writing has won a national short story contest by Living Springs Publishers in 2018, as well as appeared in The Merrimack Review, Cleaver Literary Magazine and Alloy Literary Magazine.