The Riddle

By Megan Arkenberg

In the forest that isn’t a forest,

the girl who isn’t a girl any longer

asks me the following riddle:

Unless one man leaves you, none will leave you.

Until you love a thing you cannot love it

properly. Every woman carries a scar

in the same shape

in a different place

on her body. Unless one man leaves you

none will leave you, but once the first rises

the others will follow, crows scattered

at the fall of a blade. What you would keep, hold lightly.

What you would lose, hold lighter still.

In the forest that isn’t a forest

any longer, the raven on the woman’s shoulder

offers the following insight about love:

Like everything else,

it rots.


Megan Arkenberg lives in northern California, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature. Her poetry has been published in dozens of places, including Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Asimov’s, and Polu Texni, and her short fiction has most recently appeared in Nightmare and The Dark. She procrastinates by editing the fantasy e-zine Mirror Dance. Find her online at