Kirsten Jacobson

Kingdom of Toads

Once upon a time I knew how to take away pain.  Villagers mocked me as a witch but crept to my door in secret.

The king’s brother visited my cottage and behaved badly. 

Now he is a toad and my belly is a mountain. I am in pain in the castle dungeon.

I reach out for my son, wanting to hold him, but he is swaddled and rushed upstairs.  He is the king’s nephew.

I may be in chains but I can promise that until I hold my child, every mother in the kingdom will give birth to a tadpole.

The Dead are All Around Us

“Mommy. Mommy!” My daughter’s face is pale in the moonlight.

“What, sweetheart?”

“The dead are all around us,” she whispers urgently.  “I hear them playing games.”

“Oh.” My heart sinks.

“But we’re not dead.  Can I sleep with you?”

I lift the quilt and she scrambles in beside me.

“Good night, Mommy.”

Crying quietly, I watch the shadows move about the room, thinking that five is too young to know these things.  The slap of cards and clattering of rolling dice keep me awake till morning.

Kirsten Jacobson

Kirsten Jacobson MD has worked as an emergency room physician and a family medicine doctor for over 20 years.  A music major in college, she has worked as a pianist and flautist for over 30 years.  Her piano work was featured on the soundtrack of the 2007 documentary “Stanley’s House.”  Her flute has been used on albums by musicians Elizabeth Mitchell, Rachel Loshak, and Debbie Lan.