the queen of hearts

the house had a smell
as all houses and grandmothers do
and it lived in her memory
as only particular smells and foster mothers might
sometimes the sunshine of a july heat
would bring the smell of that house to the forefront of her mind
like a new york city doorman in a hurricane.

the house itself was simple, small
the kind a child might draw with a peeling red crayon
and a piece of cheap-white construction paper
its smell though, was great and well-suited to the home
cat piss, pine-sol, black coffee, dust
it all collected in the tired carpeting of the living room there
and when the front door opened it would rise up to meet you
like a gentleman out of his seat for an approaching lady.

one september day,
the house began to collapse, as if made of cards
it rained spades and diamonds then
and the ground smelt only of tiger lilies
and baby’s breath thereafter.


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