You are taught you can be anything you want, but whatever you can’t choose
Haunts you in the cold bath
And in the mirror that has her face.
Your neighbors see you and remember when your mother burned the forest by dropping a lit
So they watch your fingers for stained tobacco skin and your lips for her dimple
That she filled with constant sound and light and
And you pray to whatever you refuse to believe in
That children can break the mold of ancient heroes in ancient cities they never got to touch
And learn to cross their own sea.
Build their own boats and forge across the cliffs they see
Only in faded photo albums
I cut her hair from my head.
And tear her skin on my bones carved from our pain
And I slip past the silent shores on a canoe I made with broken fingers
And I can see the pace of us
Stretch on until the end.
She is a spider. A black widow
Building her castle in the corners of your own doubts
So she can see you sleep with another new man
And crush another new pill.
And laugh because she knows you’re remembering
All the things she used to do
While you lay sleeping in the next room.
And the eggs she lays in your head are worming their way through your thoughts and you sneeze
Into the sink and they can taste your blood and it is beautiful.
But you can see her too.
Nina Eddinger received her Bachelor's in Professional Writing in 2021, and has been published in Silver Rose Magazine, Her Campus, Shoofly Literary Magazine, The Borgen Magazine, and Share Literary Journal, among others. Her short story "Mom," was republished in Plain China's Anthology for the Best Undergraduate Writers of 2021.