Storage Shelf Sage
For the apple head doll, the first cut
is cruelest. To find its moonmeat
face, cheeks whittled high,
honeycrisp skin is nicked then scraped
in stripes, curling gently.
After a stinging citrus bath,
she’s hung outside to dangle
She learns about the light and dark
of a day, how they squabble for the right
to souls. Field mice only mate at night,
through sundial-tolls the queen ant flies,
and when at last the steel ball struck,
the walls came a-tumbling down.
Everyone woke earlier that morning.
Some things are so ugly we can’t hide them.
Parched apple shucked, a walnut
with peppercorns for teeth and eyes.
For her body, skewer
softened head with a hanger, unwound, then twist out
arms and legs. A pink gingham dress
for the biggest smile, yellow yarn hair
and a belt sewn tight. The grin slit high into her sunken
cheeks, with loony fish-eyes and loose seams
and when the closet door closed shut, she felt
what she was.
And dust built high between her wiry thighs,
untouched among dried-out paints and files,
her children growing unawares outside
and she saw more through what she
couldn’t, lecturing to Christmas cards
and clothespins, saying, Listen: I suggest you, too,
Caroline King has recently completed her master’s in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth College and holds a master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford. She is also the co-founder and editor of The Napkin Poetry Review and has been published in Southwest Review, Abridged, Poetry Quarterly, STAAR, The Rational Creature, Clamantis, and South Central Review among others.