Manifest a mausoleum of the miniature house father fabricated the fall you turn four. Erected where the backyard abuts the meadow and the edge of the marsh, you are instructed of its cherry wallpapered purpose before you skip through the bee balm towards it in a periwinkle pinafore.
Enter a door without any bolts, too scant for adults, a place only accessible to the most minuscule. Play there, wile away long summer days in a tiara and your step-mother’s borrowed jewels, practicing the rituals of becoming a nobleman’s spouse. Perfect patrician place settings, calligraphy and walk in plastic kitten heels until you are old enough to be of use. Old enough a father can ignore how you feel. Can no longer crouch beneath its childish ceilings, cower inside its cedar pretense.
Father offers your hand in town and considers candidates while you, morose, in a marsh in a gingham babydoll dress, layer two sets of long leather gloves — only the gardener ever requests you dress for experimentation rather than love; the very same man who taught you the names of each plant, the noxious as well as the nice. Though he does not have a clue the power you derive from his horticultural advice.
Fill your covered fingers then coffers with what resembles dried Queen Anne’s Lace though you would tell the truth of their toxins if anyone ever bothered to asked —
water hemlock you save for your final disgrace Wind some around your locks as a crown. Drown sorrows in a skeleton bridal teacup, hand painted at 12 and stored four more years safely away. You knew the next time you would see it, it would summon tears with the most toxic of teas one must sip on that most miserable day. It’s kept in the back of the cupboard in the too-small house where you played. Skin a hip on its jamb as you crawl. Another season, you would be married away away or no longer fit inside of this place at all. Happiness you are outgrowing. Rest in peace where you were small.