You were thrilled to see our dollhouse
restored before you came to visit—
green shutters, white siding, matchstick
window panes—just as your father had built it
when you were seven years old.

You suggested the shopping spree for miniature tables,
velvet chaises, lamps, and all that could refurbish
our house, but then it came, pain
in your side at night. We were forced
to abandon our plans.

Waiting to hear the surgeon’s report,
I’m the girl behind you watching you
at your chiffon-draped vanity, arms raised,
combing out your chestnut hair, ringed by mirrors,
perfume bottles, atomizers in clusters.

Now arms hanging, the drip of drugs from bottles to tubes,
to arms—your etherized body reflected in mirrors,
wrapped in gauze dressings. The surgeon’s report is not good.
The kidneys are fine, but the pancreas is not.

I gently comb your hair, stir up the wisps resting
on your damp forehead. I’m here, Mother.
standing before you, trying to keep you
on this side of the mirror.

Published Over a Threshold of Roots, Sandra Larson, Pudding House Chapbook Series, 2007