A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony – 3 Firefly Poems by Kristin Garth
The following three poems are excerpts from A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony, a book of sonnets by Kristin Garth in collaboration with Tianna Hansen & Justin Karcher. The book is about The Doll, a ballerina who is sold to a wizard and shrunk in order to be kept in his dollhouse by a frenemy ballerina. The story is a poetic opera, a tragic romance between The Doll and The Wizard.
The poems below are from the Firefly series from A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony and focus on The Wizard’s recognition that this disparity he has made between himself and The Doll is wrong.
The Last Enchantment
The truth is telescopic when he’s tall —
some distant, obfuscated wrinkled star,
uncollimated features, bone casket pall,
intentions blurred beneath a visage, far,
whose tears invade reposing dolls. You choke,
soaked damask sofa — sadness, waterfall.
First-time-believing, near death, a dream, deepthroat,
doomed floater, saline, screams, piano shawl
around breasts, buttermilk — his drips, despair,
your burnout silk. His desolation, your
destruction, swallowing ’til fireflies, bear
him shrunken, wallowing, weak, to dollhouse door.
His last enchantment spent becoming small,
through true love’s tiny threshold, he must crawl.
Narrative notes: The Doll is actually nearly drowning in The Wizard’s tears. He decides the only thing to do is shrink himself, using his last enchantment to be with her in the dollhouse.
Death And The Firefly
One dies, side-eyed, surprised. Survives pine jamb
collision long enough to realize,
it’s now sidewise, seizing by an old man,
a plastic portico. His swarm, he spies,
retreating constellation from table top
abandons insect, human dropped — same guy
who summoned, cracked window, shrinking thoughts
until he’s caught by countless claws. Flies,
with compound eyes, community of wings,
the one at elbow gleams until its crash,
a strobe light on the floor. Everything
is waiting to let go. One final thrash
into a darkness, snuffing out the pride.
Was his whole life to get this man inside?
Narrative notes: The Wizard has no strength to bring his weakened shrunken body into the dollhouse so he summons fireflies to fly it up to the table where the dollhouse resides. One of the fireflies dies during the journey.
Love Could Be A Plastic Knife
you’ll wield one night to save a life. Removes
wing covers languidly, veined cellophane,
its grey-winged mystery. Excision proves
your love for him, this wizard, captor, bane
then friend who nearly drowned you with his tears,
diminished you to ease his fears. Yet you
dissect insects for him, yellow glimmers,
reveal of abdomen. Magnified through
his magic, half your size, bent antennae,
black bandit pointillistic eyes. White ooze,
you’ll use, bug body parts, burnt sienna
pulverized arthropod hearts with pointe shoes.
Bioluminescence could save his life
the way that love could be a plastic knife.
Narrative notes: The Doll realizes The Wizard may die at the threshold of her house if she doesn’t find some magic to save him. The only magic she can perform is to summon the enchanted firefly corpse, which she dismembers and grinds into powder with a tiny plastic dollhouse knife and her toe shoes. It is her only chance to bring back her Wizard.
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