Caroline Shea


Diagnostic Notes on The Bachelorette

reality   sugar-spun  the too-white teeth    of each

contestant clicking     like the pop of orbit gum out of the pack

for three months i’ve found myself   devouring   gaze pinned

on their economy of vulnerability      are you here

for the right reasons?     do you know how to play the game?

i admit, i was cynical at the beginning of this journey.

thought The Bachelorette could never be for me.

then the moon is out again           the sliver in my chest waxes

and bloats. an emptiness                swells more space than it should.

yes, love, your absence fills me

a sugarcane nausea     a tug in the throat        a waiting.

but enough about me. so what, i was a skeptic? you have to trust

the process:     the careful giving over of the self          the tender pit

of small talk. Becca sits in front of a man

and he tells her he is his mother’s only surviving child

the other two dead (a few years apart) of overdose.

we first kissed a few weeks after your last bad relapse.

but it isn’t this I think of first, it’s my nervousness

as you turned each pill bottle in your hand        bare chested

the milk spilt moon silvering my twin bed into halves

and didn’t ask. just waited      until it unspooled. that year of sharp

and shiver.      that was when i knew i was falling.

later, you will bandage the scars you kissed. it’s a risk to strip so early.

to show your hand. how good or bad. how it shakes.     after champagne

& a dinner date, Becca sends the suitor home.

something about spark or lack of it or maybe            following her heart.

but through the canned rejection and recycled mantras, i find myself,

still   always  rooting for love            smiling into curled fingers

as someone else spills their guts          & hopes they stick.


Caroline Shea was formerly the Editor in Chief of Vantage Point Magazine and the 2014 Kenyon Young Writers Workshop anthology, where her work was featured. Her poetry has appeared in Bad Pony Magazine, Souvenir, and Moonsick Magazine. She lives in New England and works as an editorial assistant for a local women-run small press.

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