Still Life (Shirley in the House) -- Donna de la Perriere

in the place where she lives, she has taken everything down from the walls    she does this at night, and in the morning when she comes back it is someone else's room    from her mother's house she has taken a group of small clay men    she takes them from the house at night while everyone is asleep    in her house there is a landscape constructed inside a box    a box inside a box inside a box inside a box    in the innermost box she has put four of the clay figures    each day the landscape flattens, the sun rises and falls    the figures spin from their anchored bases

when her father dies she takes a brush with some hair still in it, an old coin, and a pair of his work gloves    in the place where she lives she does not know what to do with them    in the room are small ornaments, figures which belong to the room's owner    they populate dressers and the edges of tables    each day she moves them into another shape, as if everything is simply a problem of placement

one night she sleeps in another person's house and when she wakes up in the morning she has a different face    her own but different, more hard-cut and glassy    that day she loses things every minute

at work someone steals her bag, they take it from her desk drawer    she goes out of the room, and when she gets back suddenly nothing is there    for days she goes from building to building looking in trash cans and back halls    every so often she will catch a quick glimpse of something that looks like it might be hers, but by the time she gets there it is gone or is something else    and much later when someone finds the bag with almost everything still in it, it's the finding that seems strange instead of the theft    she has lost it already    it isn't hers anymore

where she lives she has taken things down from the walls, and in her room she can move around only by touch, her hand peeling surface down each of the walls    she may have lost what was hers, so she keeps imagining little experiments:     every day it gets colder, blood freezes in the vein    she appears smaller on the surface of each hand moving south

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