The Dolls’ House


When the diagnosis came in: stage four metastatic cancer, I hauled the dolls’ house from my mother’s basement, mouse dust and damp pressed-board. It was no small feat, dragging our prized toy, a full four feet tall, up my mother’s stairs to scour the wall paper with ammonia, to tear out the tiny carpets seeded with droppings, to gut the house she’d glued down with paint brushes and toothpicks. I scrubbed till my sinuses ached and, lightheaded, I nearly lost my footing. Oh, hollow boarded room, aching and stinging with astringent— what am I but this womb, part miniature home, part scoured box they’ll lay my mother in?

NADINE SABRA MEYER’s first book of poems, The Anatomy Theater, won the National Poetry Series and was published by HarperCollins in 2006. Her poems have won the New Letters Prize for Poetry, the 2011 Meridian Editor’s Prize, and a Pushcart Prize. New poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southern Review, Southwest Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Literary Imagination, Boulevard, Nimrod, North American Review, The Missouri Review and Blackbird. She is an assistant professor at Gettysburg College.