(a really rough draft that i am working on. to take a break from poetry, because not everyone likes rocks as much as i do. the piece is untitled because it is a rough draft.)
He sat on the bench, holding the plastic dollhouse in his lap. Where it was supposed to be white it had yellowed. He thought this was typical of things bought in second-hand stores. There was both new and old snow at his feet, some dirt cupping the legs of the bench. It seemed as if the bench was rising from the dirt. Otherwise, the landscape was white and the sky showed nothing except stripped branches, rising steam from stacked apartments; only the uppermost perspectives of any objects. If he had looked at the sky, he might have felt small.
He was sitting outside of his daughter’s school, holding the newly-bought toy in his lap, rotating it occasionally so the small plastic people inside tumbled from wall to wall, or room to room as well. He wanted to give her this toy. He had bought it for her. Certainly not for himself. He hadn’t seen her in five weeks, and two days, also. There were the two extra days. Sharon left on a Saturday morning. The sun hadn’t even risen, it had been that early. He had come home from his shift just in time to see the exhaust pipes blowing hot smoke down the road towards the driveway. He was aware it was final. And now, he had this toy and he was at Ella’s school. Ella Bella. He shook the house a little bit harder this time. It sounded like chaos inside. He bit his lip and rubbed his rough cheek with a rough hand. Both palm and cheek grated against one another. He sure could use a cigar. Damn him for leaving the package floating in the toilet. Pretending to quit again. There was cold in the air, that was for sure. It was at the back of his neck. He hadn’t worn a scarf and now it felt like something was chewing on his neck it was so cold. Recess wouldn’t be for another two hours. Morning was still cementing itself into the day, back and forth brushstrokes of even cemented sky, of one early hour being poured slowly. He looked around him but what was there to see? This block like so many others on the street, the graffiti, the co-op housing, the numerous daycares with smiling suns painted in the windows. What else.
He looked down at the house. What were they doing in there, those tiny people? Of course they were plastic, they weren’t doing much. He held the house up to his eye and looked through a green-shuttered window. Up this close he could smell the Zambuuca on his breath. Last bottle in the house. What’s a man gonna do? His eyes were watering. The wind. But inside the house, it looked pretty still. Calm even, if it could be calm. Maybe this wasn’t the right room. Where were the people? Had they all fallen? He shook the house a little and the Father figure rolled into the room. Or did he stumble? Moving his eye closer to the window, he thought he saw the figure lean against the wall. Like physically right himself and then lean against the wall. Of course, ridiculous. He shook his head. He turned the house and looked into the family room, the living room. It had a built-in china cabinet, a square television. The woman was sitting on the couch. On the floor, a boy and girl. The boy was on his back, an accident perhaps due to the rough handling. The girl was sitting up. Yes, he looked again, she was sitting up. By herself. Not because her plastic legs were bent but because they were real. Real, tiny-doll sized legs leaning her whole body up against gravity, defying the idea of even being a doll. Of even actually being plastic. The Mother figure turned her head and she was looking at the girl. Or was she looking at him? Was she talking to him? He tried to imagine what she might be saying but the voice was so small, how could he hear? He pressed his ear against the window. What was she saying? His hands clenched the corner of the house and he wanted to shake it, he was so goddamn frustrated. What was she saying? The Mother had turned back towards the television and the little girl was sitting closer to the couch now, her back against the cushions. She wasn’t looking at him. Even the little boy had turned away from him, still lying on his back, but looking towards a different corner of the ceiling, imagining perhaps the sky. Not knowing it was winter, not knowing the expanse of white.
“Come back!” He yelled. His own voice startled him. It sounded rough. It was a stream of gravel flowing from the hand. It didn’t sound like his voice. He shook the house. The little people rattled inside. It could have been a box of bones. He was so angry. Why had he bought this house in the first place? What good was it? It wasn’t even new. The white was yellow and second-hand. He shook it harder and harder, imagining the people bouncing off the walls. The plastic furniture pieces not built in tumbling up and down. He threw the house on the ground and stomped on it. He was still wearing his workboots. He crushed the house into shards of plastic.
“Ha. Take that.” He laughed. And laughed. He stomped the house right into the ground and the snow around it melted through sheer repetitive force. There the house was, at his feet, and then the bell for recess rang. He had been wrong about the time. It was later than he thought and recess was now. The children, pouring out of all the doors, coming in streams. Laughter rolling through the sky, a barrage of clouds coming in.