My past dwells in the dollhouse –   
a narrow three-story abode squatting in the alleyway  
between a mass grave of half-naked plastic girls  
and the sturdy wood of my closet door. Fifteen years ago,  
they called it the Dreamhouse. Now the shutters are broken,  
the stickers peeling, the floors covered  
in a mystical layer of thick gray dust. But if I press  
the tiny switch hidden under the faded crib sheets, I can  
still hear the tinkling melody that once soothed  
stillborn bug-eyed doll babies that lie frozen  
still here in their eternal youth. When I was young  
I thought I could subvert time too. But this closet is too small  
to shelter me now. Or perhaps my body is just too big,  
carrying the weight of womanhood upon the bones of a girl  
in sixth grade, the last days before first blood  
before the straight roads on her map learned to curve  
and tore the fabric of her candy-stripe world. Crushed and forgotten  
at the bottom of a toy chest lies  
Wedding Barbie and Ken, still side by side  
and destined for eternity as they were sold  
in a boxed set. I used to think this was true love –  
plastic bodies beautiful and motionless, unburdened  
by the hunger that crept into my games of dress-up. Even now  
I still long to play pretend. I can be anything  
if only I dream it. I could learn to care  
for a man, the way I learned  
the quadratic equation and parallel parking  
they don’t come  
naturally but who am I   
to question  
what is natural?  
I’m twenty and I’ve seen  
too many strange things. I long to take refuge  
within these bubblegum-pink walls where everything is possible  
and nothing is uncertain. It’s all manufactured, of course  
but reality hurts. Just give me five  
more minutes of girlhood before  
I must be grown again.