Kintsugi by Nancy Au

“One day … [the demon] made a looking-glass which had the power of making everything … that was worthless and bad looked increased in size and worse than ever … All who went to the demon’s school … talked everywhere of the wonders they had seen, and declared that people could now, for the first time, see what the world and mankind were really like.” Hans Christian Andersen, The Snow Queen


The broken mirror asks:

If you kintsugi time, bind with gold its slivered minutes, how would it appear?

Like useless apologies, said little Gerda.

Like losing a child, said the Snow Queen.

Like kissing you to death, said Kay.

Like a new nest of dead leaves, said the swallow.

Like melting fox tracks on snow, said the sunshine.

Like shriveled pink buds on bright green, said the rose.

Like loneliness in a garden of talking flowers, said the old woman.

Like empty schools, said the troll.

Like dirty skies before a storm, said the crow.

Like the pillow that smells of someone else, said the princess.

Like the end of a friendship, said the robber girl.

Like the burnt hull of a carriage, said the reindeer.

The broken mirror says:

The glass belongs to everyone, splintered as the world it lives in.




Nancy Au’s writing appears in Tahoma Literary Review, The Pinch, Beloit Fiction Journal, Lunch Ticket, SmokeLong Quarterly, Foglifter, Forge Literary Magazine, among others. She has an MFA from San Francisco State University where she taught creative writing. She teaches creative writing (to biology majors!) at California State University Stanislaus, and is co-founder of The Escapery ( Her flash fiction is included in the Best Small Fictions 2018 anthology. And, her full-length collection, Spider Love Songs & Other Stories, is forthcoming from Acre Books in Spring 2019.


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