mary douglas


The Novel Is A Dollhouse


dedicated to my sister, Sharon, a great pianist and:
the English teachers who rationed my adjectives

the novel is a dollhouse
in which characters can be
rearranged

they have bendable joints
whether they are in the parlour
with the mauve carpet

or positioned happily by the rose-
sprigged taffeta curtains
in the grandmother's sitting room with its

rose leaf-green
tinted walls its
tiny hatboxes on the topmost shelf
its delicate tea service polished on Saturdays

and the petit-fours on display
that somehow never get eaten
(they're for Company)

the novel is a dollhouse
especially on holidays

you can see:

the miniscule bubble-lit
Christmas tree
and forever the fairy lights
at the frosted front-window

right between the caramel armchair
and the table-top fleur-de-lis
lamp
with its circle of butter-cream light
illumininating

just as it begins to snow.
(will they ever open their presents?)

in the kitchen off the
dining room stand
the children with their

heaped up plates
of pink divinity candy
on a pattern of

old country roses
(they got straight A's)
they are bewitched
by the poems of Walter De La Mare...

the rest of the dolls
are downstairs watching TV
probably 'The Wonderful
World of Color' in black

and white or 'Brambly
Hedges',
getting banana
splits and finger paints all
over the rag rugs, playing
with matches as best they
can, waving the butter-knife and
taking turns

running with the pinking shears
slamming doors.
helping themselves to
the last of the spumoni-

they cheat at Candyland.

and the floppy dog runs
in fired-up curlicued circles
with a chicken-pie je ne sa quois
that Raggedy Ann can't

understand, so she just keeps
smiling, smiling, smoothing her white
pinafore under the shade tree

by the lemonade springs.

and the furry dog flies through the
fenced-in yard with the gate left wide open
past the green metal garden chair

the neon nasturtiums
and the bean stalks...

there's the charming sister in cherry-violet velvet-
Belgian-Irish lace-

still seated at the music-box tiny gold piano

polishing off her maple-red Scarlatti,
'An American in Paris, ' and.
'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer'
simultaneously-
forever changing music history; .

the glittering sounds are far-reaching-
lifted over the candy-striped swing-set
and the circus tent-

wafting over the mimosas
straight into the Giant's castle
(how very brave) -

while the Lily Pons doll
-in fresh pink organza-
thinks in arias, quickly,

how to save the stage-
and offers her pink-ice earrings for ransom...

but it's too late

the adjective egg timer on the teacher's desk
boils over, (not a bicycle bell) ...
and means it


mary angela douglas rev.11 october 2011 from version of 18 august 2009

Submitted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Topic of this poem: Childhood


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