Poetry

A Doll’s House

Laura Kasischke

A little plastic bed, and at
the foot of it, a plastic cat.
The dresser with its seven drawers
that do not open up, of course.
The hollow stove, all square and pink.
The master bathroom’s unplumbed sink.
In this, a debt the wife must pay.

A child she drove to school today.
A teapot. Sieve. A tiny broom.
A husband in a basement room.
This is the little dream they have—
this future they believe they have.
Willfully blind, they eat and fuck.
To wake and sleep, it is enough.
And always there’s this untouched cake.
The TV’s blank. The phone is fake.
The thing you never dared to fear
will never make its way in here.
So mostly you can just go on
moving your furniture around
while relishing your privacy
and privilege, while on her knees
some little girl considers these
bitter matters of family.

The thing you never dared to fear.
But always there, and always here.
The thing outside that’s looking in—
has always been, has always been.
(But since a face fills her house, too—

if it spares her, she might spare you.)

Laura Kasischke is author of nine novels and nine collections of poetry, including Space, In Chains, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is Theodore Roethke Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan.
Originally published:
April 1, 2020

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