Tea Time in Dollhouses


The sky was colored different that day

Though I doubt we noticed

Your home always swallowed light

Even the shag carpet consumed our toes

You said, I wish someone would take me away

Maybe you were playing Chopin on the piano

While I laid at your feet, staring up at the popcorn ceiling,

Designing gods and ghouls, slipping in and out of the music

The notes filling my head with poetry I would save for a later date

Or maybe we were stretched out on the sofa

Watching Charlie’s Angels reruns, fighting over who’d be

Jill with the hair and the perfect groin kick

Madonna or Lauper? Morrissey or Violent Femmes?

You were ten, looking to be rescued

I was eleven, still drawn to your dollhouse

Dressing the porcelain family to sit in their

Wallpapered rooms with Victorian furniture and

Silverware that slipped through our fingers

I made up lives,

You hid from yours

Sketching women with long faces, distant eyes,

Swollen lips, one swoosh for a nose

They looked like you —

Bored beauties in wrong time periods,

Looks that made people want to

Dive into your darkness, line up for rescue

I was born into cowboys and horsehide,

Left to sink or swim in pretty dresses, forming a strange sisterhood

You rubbed gravestones with coal to hang above your bed

Allowed the privilege of being weird without the label

I stared at the name of a dead stranger wondering about her short life,

(you always picked the flames snuffed out at dawn)

Telling stories of who we thought she was and if her ghost

Lingered above, these immortal little girls,

Prattling on with grand notions

When the reality was most likely boring and painful

I said lets go outside

There was a garden to hide in,

I always sought the incandescent blooms

But you preferred hiding in plain sight

The argument grew louder that day

Worse somehow

Too late to pull you into sunlight

And drag you into the flowered corners

We stayed absorbing the bulleted blow of words

Paralyzed, unwilling  to call attention to the

Madness in the next room

Too late to escape to the garden

You drew while I sketched scenarios in the dollhouse,

Making up happy ending before you declared

I wish they would just get divorced.

But I wouldn’t let them

Not the dolls in their perfect home

You knew before I tidied each of their rooms,

Pouring imaginary tea into miniature thimbles,

The house was no longer a home.


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