1994, Ellicott City
Mother took me to Enchanted Forest once.
She had to call ahead of time.
At the front gate, there was a cheap carousel installed.
They said, it was in bad shape, but if she wanted to go in
I do not remember Mother's sadness
at the displaced ducklings, the burned-down barn,
the forgotten castle and sinking whale.
When I was older, Mother showed me the pictures
glued into albums. She said it was a dentist's office, now.
She said, maybe we'll go back one day. She said this
each year, and her eyes went into child eyes.
I remembered Enchanted Forest. I remembered
pressing my face and looking into the three bears’ house.
Forty years did not dull the paint colors.
The Girl Who Came Back (1989 and 2011)i.
She left the farm because the dreams
became identifiable as only that-as a girl,
Father built the dragons in her back yard.
Father designed the walls of the crooked man's house.
Some mystery is lost in watching the process of creation.
But after years of identity crisis and bad exs,
she returned to the land of her mother, prodigal
in her sequined halter tops and broken bangles.
The pilgrimage was long to the farm, only for her to find
the house gone. The gate rusted orange. A NO TRESSPASSING sign
on her childhood. A pile of bricks as grave markers.
Hopping the fence, she split the silk like factory
hands, and gathered the bricks that could be found.
She carried them one by one into the truck of her car,
the emergency lights blinking.
I try to be the tour guide for us. I take what Mother taught me,
re-picture the original map as I look toward the open woods.
I close my eyes to see more clearly. This was Willie's pond, I say,
pointing to the rotting brown swamp. This was the circus tent.
The lumps are hardly discernable, now.
Are you sure that's a body? they ask.
Yes, I'm sure. I remember
the lines of gingerbread men. I remember,
and this is what saves me.
But there, I point, the castle! It looms above us, the one piece
that can be seen from the parking lot, behind the businesses.
I search for the mountain but cannot see it.
But it is there, watching us. I know it.*
Ars Poetica (Archaeology)
Her memory is the vinyl that plays
non-stop while laying down the kitchen tile.
I try to sing along, but what do I know
of history? I'm too young to know loss.
She tells me about Snow White's grace,
and the endurance of Sleeping Beauty, how each
of these girls was a friend, during some season of pain.
Sometimes, I am the archaeologist, taking
these parsed photos, remembering
what is not mine to remember. I dig in the back
yard with my fingers, unearth the edge
of history and brush the mud off his shoulder bones.
I claim this as my past. I tell you,
this is your past as well.
I think of my mother's stories-have I laminated
the pages, bound them with craft store ribbons,
are they protected well enough?
In our house, there are seven Bibles, and all I can think
of are Christians in China, craving to have another loose
page. They pass the gospel of Luke through secret
chains. They memorize Jesus. They do not let this be forgotten.
I pick up one of these books, and acknowledge
the years of sermons and blessings that have
been lost in my foolishness.
Oh Mother, I pray
I never do this to you, too.*
Is a good number, with the taste of Hansel's candy,
white, yellow, blue, pink, baby pastels,
the smell of chalky Robin's Eggs.
The colors of happiness. Walt Disney
colors. If I was a Chinese fortune teller,
I'd say it's a number with a long future,
good and prosperous with double happiness.
But what do I know about history? What can I say
for the absence of Robin Hood's hands?
Who am I to tell you that your childhood
is a perishable item that cannot be refrigerated,
that some stories will rise, some stories will be dragged
into muddy ditches, and these lost hands
are one of those stories.
Mount Vesuvius is crumbling paper mache
that the neighbors complain is visible from their back
yard. Mount Vesuvius was shut down
after the slide began to sink, just after they closed the jungle.
The mountain taught us: always bring wax paper
to slide on, it makes you go faster. Don't press
your leg against the summer metal. Don't run
too fast around the ladder curve unless
you wanna fall in the pond, and the owner's wife
will have to take your clothes and dry them, which may take
a long time, and Momma's gonna make you remember that one.
It would be justifiable, if after this, the mount held
a holy rage, deep in its crumbling,
a righteous anger for us growing old and forsaking
its authority, denying what our fathers created.
But the mountain is silent and all-bearing in its death,
like Christ-only God is not crumbling, God is not forged-
He is this large immovable thing that we continue
to complain being able to see over the hedges, visible protrusion
interrupting our suburban history. In fear
of remembering, we convince ourselves that the mountain
no longer exists. But we never succeed, because look-
the brown, overcoming the height of the trees!
Meg Eden firstname.lastname@example.org Meg Eden has been published in various magazines and is the recipient of the 2012 Henrietta Spiegel Creative Writing Award. She was a reader for the Delmarva Review. Her collections include "Your Son" (The Florence KahnMemorial Award) and "Rotary Phones and Facebook" (Dancing Girl Press). Checkout her work at: http://artemisagain.wordpress.com/ http://artemisagain.wordpress.com/