• By Aoife Arras (she/her)
  • Art “Gap” by Yiu-On Li (he/him)

when i was five years old, i watched my mother give birth
i felt the stab in her back as the epidural was administered
my knees quivered at the loss of a waterfall of our blood
cords in my throat became a braid of raw flesh, screams
salt streams running down our collarbones

where was the toilet when she found out a year before
that her womanhood had failed? i wasn’t there so i just
imagined my little brother being flushed down into
wonderland, gobbled up by one-ply paper and trapped on
the other side of the looking glass

when my baby sister emerged, it was through a battle on a chess board
someone i could hold in a blue dress and white smock
stained with the desire for a friend on the sun-stricken side
so why was it that when i looked at our alice, all
i felt was guilt?

where we took her wasn’t a home
but a house of mad hatters, flickering lights
caressing the glass of windows, mirrors shattered because
this isn’t wonderland, this isn’t a castle, there isn’t magic here
some people would be better off in wonderland

i’m sorry, alice.