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Storage Shelf Sage

Caroline King

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,

try crying.

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.


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