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Jul 20
She collected lolly sticks,
        The ones with jokes on them:
        Why did the chicken cross the road?-type stuff,
Which she stained brown and used as floorboards
in her magnum opus.

The Tudor house was the best one.
It had servants’ quarters
And a kitchen with little hessian potato sacks made
of something or other she salvaged from
somewhere or other;
And the floorboards looked so real:
        painted lolly sticks
        but almost evoking the smell of varnish,
        layers of polish on a floor trodden by centuries
        in perfect miniature;
                                                Almost­.

This was the last of the three
                                                or four
                                                        doll­s’ houses she built;
The devil’s work for her idle widow’s hands.
She built this one while you were entering into your final
        stalemate
that doomed dance that sits so permanently
on your conscience now
like a sack of compost
full of water.
        (I choose this metaphor only because
        I found this in my garden yesterday
        and it was ******* heavy.)
On paper it was simple:
        You gave her your house,
        She gave you hers.

And so her house shrunk around her and
became a dolls’ house of your own making,
Irrationally
                        she saw your god-hands reaching in
to manipulate and
extort her.

She was wrong, of course.

You were making good on your promise.
You would come through for her in her old age.
You did.

But it was a promise you made more to yourself than her,
And she let her illogical mind
        never analytical to begin with
        now razed and blinded by grief and loneliness
                        (there was nothing to work with)
poison your good deed
and you were both dolls now.

Eight years later she died lovelessly.

She was moved into her sitting room
        the only part of the house that stayed the same
        after you moved in –
                the walls closed in to contain it
                constrict it
a hospital bed and vinyl chair with commode,
and the brown laminate floor
        just like
        her lolly sticks.

You administered painkillers
Admitted the nurses
Negotiated with your estranged brother.

but her paranoia rotted everything
and your hands cared with compassion but not love.

Gone, now,
the dolls’ houses remain.
An inheritance of clutter but in a house
you bought.

You answer the phone
                                        breathlessly
      ­                                  aggressively.
You have been heaving the big one up the stairs
        that sack of compost
        that heavy conscience of yours.

You will be heaving those ******* dolls’ houses around
until I have to buy your house and care for you.
But I am telling you now:
        I am putting them in a skip
        the moment I have the chance.

They are not imbued with the joy they gave her
any more than
                        by keeping them safe from landfill
                        you can imbue them with the love you withheld.

They are painted lolly sticks and sewn hessian.
They don’t contain any more of her
than the bits of paper she kept
        passwords and bank balances
        dates and instructions for the Sky box
There is nothing left of her to protect now.

        (We won’t mention her
        unscattered ashes
        which have been left with the undertaker
        for nearly two years now.
                They’re not her either
                but they’re more her.)

Open up the hinged false front
                tip out the miniatures
                let the little figures be free,
                                be landfill
                                (isn’t that what dying is anyway?)
all the tangible things she touched and loved
are not avatars for her touch and her love.

The past is not present through the preservation of objects.
The past is not erased by the advancement of time
                nor can it be undone by corrective action.

Now she is on the other side of the road,
        (why did the chicken
        behave.)
She has no further use for the things she left behind.
Written by
Bruce Adams  27/M/London
(27/M/London)   
153
     Fawn
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