The Dolls’ House Mysteries
A woman lies so tidily
below the belly of her cooking range,
it all looks intended;
the ironing board, a saddled horse
provisions in the cupboard enough for a week.
Her shadow seeps into her clothes,
the cake cools
on the thrust out tongue of the oven;
the utter pitch of its throat.
It’s the triangle between the point of the toe
and the handle of the tap
and the exact site at which the water
hits the woman’s upturned face
that fixes this composition.
Geometry is important.
It pulls the eye away
with invisible machinery
from the pandemonium
of carpets woven with human hair.
And the imagination
is manoeuvred deftly
from what happens to skin
once doused for hours
in water teemed with fluoride .
Fire lived here once;
slept in this bed low like a dog
pressed to its mistress.
They watched the calendar
inch though the year
as the sun slipped its anchor.
A child presses fingers to blood-spats
on the candy-stripe wallpaper,
traces the outline of the pink blanket
draped over the edge of the cot,
while her mother explains
that something bad has happened
in the dolls’ house.
The child has just-washed hair
and her ruby coat is still buttoned
against the December rain.
When they’ve gone
the gallery assistant rises from her chair,
sprays the glass with ethanol
and removes the prints with a lint-free towel.
* The Doll’s House Mysteries is based on The Nutshell Studies by Frances Glessner Lee, photographed by Corinne May Botz.