by Caroline Shea

for Susan, after losing Narnia

As a child, I entered May
unrepentant and afraid,

believing with each year
gained, I lost a measure

of the magic I was born with.
After all, Susan in her stockings

and lipstick was severed
from the kingdom she saved,

her refusal of youth
an inevitable failing,

like the snake of my spine
or original sin. I never blamed Eve.

Who hasn’t found themselves
outstripped by desire, the skin of innocence

shed in brilliant coils? I would choose to fall
every time. Back then, I worshipped

changelessness. A growing body
was one that could betray me.

I’m still looking for a door.
An elsewhere. Please don’t think me

ungrateful. In the sliver of world
Susan had left, her entire family

died in a day. Their reward
an Eden unending. Girl-Queen

grown old alone, you owe him
nothing. Let any god that begrudged you beauty

after Blitz fade under memory’s
thick snow. When I left the country

of my childhood, I took only a crown,
an apple, a quiver and bow. The candles gutter out,

 so I wish on sweetness
 instead, the way frosting stains

my teeth blood-red. I aim into the future’s
tender mouth, a small sharp thing

as quick as belief. The wound I leave leaks
doubt like light.


Caroline Shea is the author of Lambflesh. Her work has previously appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Narrative Magazine, The Pinch, and Rogue Agent, among other publications. She received her MFA in poetry from NYU.

Image: Andrea Sánchez

Image description: young woman with freckles and red nails puts on pink lipstick.