This story is paired with “The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was” from Children’s and Household Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free.
I had a dream that we were canoeing
across a river—my mother and I—
to Snow White’s cabin, and perhaps
I expected the land to stay constant,
but once it was clear how much damage
was done, I tried to point to another shore—
but Mother had her eyes fixed
on her childhood ruins.
Even from the distance, I could see
the houses undone like bodices, burnt
and hollow, their silhouette an elegy.
The figures that remained
were pillaged and naked.
I tried to cover her eyes the way
she once covered mine during movies
she deemed unfit. I looked to the water
and said, Think—the people before us,
who crossed this water!
The names we will never know!
My mother raised her eyebrows, adjusted
her glasses and looked at the forbidden.
But her eyes were weak. It was only a dream.
She was confused.
With shame, I took her face in my hands
and turned her to the other shore,
where the trees were new and bright.
Perhaps it would be better for her to see.
But I am not the one to show her.
I am not strong enough— It is not natural
for a child to bury her mother.
Meg Eden‘s work has been published in various magazines, including B O D Y, Drunken Boat, Mudfish, and Rock & Sling. Her work received second place in the 2014 Ian MacMillan Fiction contest. Her collections include Your Son (The Florence Kahn Memorial Award), Rotary Phones and Facebook (Dancing Girl Press) and The Girl Who Came Back (Red Bird Chapbooks). She teaches at the University of Maryland.