No Fairy Tale World

By Lisa Timpf


"was the spider radioactive, Mommy?"—

her son Nate's small voice, piping—

"is that why Little Miss Muffet ran away?"


she closes the volume of nursery rhymes

handed down from her mother

the book she saved from the wood stove

that awful winter

and her gaze sweeps across the counter

where the handheld Geiger apparatus

rests silent for now


no home should be without one

the ads all say

cheerfully, as if that were

something to be celebrated


that night, she dreams of a cat

fiddling while the world burns

under a full moon

bereft of cows or dreams