Playroom

A little girl enters her darkening playroom
and kneels before her doll-house.
She idly peers into fragile chambers,
their impersonal walls unblazoned.
In her hand she grips a lifeless form
made of stuffing and paisley plush.
Green marble peeks through a plastic crack,
while its twin stares sightless and blank.

Her mind is crammed with scripture and verse
from the one book she possesses.
Her parents insist she needs no other,
which the churchman also stresses.
The Bible holds all she will ever require
in this world the Lord created.
But she knows that the truth of existence
is we’re just distractions for God’s entertainment.

Tomorrow she’ll wear her best frock for service,
with shoes that are tight now but shiny.
Dragged down the aisle, she’ll peer at depictions
of disciples, all sharp-edged and scary.
The assemblage stares mutely to the pulpit,
bowing heads when the preacher commands.
Their faces are austere, scowling or joyous,
with eyes dead and empty as the doll in her hands.

The spellbinding sermon floods through her, inside her;
wide-eyed, heart pounding, she trembles.
The preacher’s voice rises, drunken with fervour,
like Daddy sometimes in the evenings.
Over her bedside a picture solemnly hangs,
of Jesus arrested, resigned to his fate.
A blush heats her skin as she feels his eyes on her
while she sits there cross-legged and plays.

With a frown and a gasp and a twist of her hands
there’s a rip and the doll’s head detaches.
Just a fraction of guilt as she casts it aside
to the corner for broken toy pieces.
Their faces all grinning, lost or bemused,
beneath layers of dust, they moulder.
She wonders if one day she’ll have to join them,
a plaything discarded when she’s grown a bit older.

She unbuckles her shoes and kicks them aside,
rises and slips her dress down to the tiles.
A chill pricks her skin as she gathers the garment
and holds it, a moment, in a fist-clenched caress
before laying it down in a neat, folded square,
shoes under the chair just like she’s supposed to.
By the bedside she kneels, like a good little girl,
praying, as bidden, for God’s absolution.

She climbs into bed and flicks off the lamp,
pulls the covers close up to her chin.
On the wall the Christ frowns, black-gazed in shadow,
like the heap in the corner, of torsos and limbs.
Perhaps God feels no love, just a bored, helpless child,
hooking strings to his toys of skin, flesh and bone?
Then she shrinks at the Lord’s calloused touch,
knowing though she may sin, she never does so alone.

© 2015 Scott Kaelen
Featured in DeadVerse: Poetry Volume One

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