The Dolls’ House

by Nadine Sabra Meyer

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.