I remember the gym and the acrobats, the moment when – not flying through the air like them – I noticed that I couldn’t fly; and how wrong was that?
I tried telling them about the experiment: where I’d read it, how it was supposed to work. I run this show, I said, or something just as bold as that.
You’re not the boss of us, one of the acrobats announced, and the other nodded, kicking the toe of his pink left sneaker lightly against the heel of his bare right foot. It was a silly gesture; I hoped I hadn’t invented it.
The acrobats were right, as it turned out. I commanded them to jump, but they just sat in lawn chairs spitting pistachio shells into their matching beards and tossing a striped ball back and forth between them until I lost interest and moved past them toward the high wire, thinking to perform a series of essentially flawless routines I’d choreograph on the spot – why not?
There’s nothing says a person can’t self-sabotage while lucid dreaming, said the taller and older of the acrobats. And he was absolutely right about that, too.
The glass box was the dwarves’ idea.
Ditto the prince and happily forever –
all that show.
I was not tricked about the apple.
And there was no crone –
another tale invented by the huntsman.
What is real is the house, the little people,
what they wanted from me (mending, as they quaintly said).
I like a tidy space, I said, and meant it,
though I would have told them anything.
Here’s what I know about the woman with the mirror:
insecure. Because my mother
willed me out of snow, and blood.
You will have read that there was danger
in the woods. Father perpetually
The Evil Queen, so called
because it suits the storyline,
was in the habit of confirming things.
And who could blame her?
Voices, she said she heard
(that small, reflecting glass)
and all the business that came afterward –
you need to know it didn’t start with me.
Laura Goldin is a publishing lawyer in New York. Her recent poems appear or are forthcoming in a number of literary journals including Driftwood Press, San Pedro River Review, Mom Egg Review, One Art, and Rogue Agent. Earlier poems appeared in The Comstock Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Bellevue Literary Review.