Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Lacey in Sunderland
Kelsey Nuttall

I. Lacey feeling faint

Letters jump
ing: boing onto my
table top.
Spanish brights pick at the spots
in my eyes’ corners.

dizzy: purple weighs
a ton, weighs
my head down
—rest on triangular
oranges. Can’t read.

If I dare
to fantasize why—
I am tired.
drips into my eyes—can’t cant,
can’t wait. It’s dark, now.

II. At the bottom of the rabbit hole

Lacey lands among several rather sizable quills,
each stuck nib-first into corrugated flooring, fiber
fuzzing like carpet around her dress frills
and silhouetted imprint. She stands ‘neath ink-fill
‘falls. Dips her toes in, purple blue, black keys on a typewriter
Lacey lands somewhere warm, among several rather sizable quills
at the end of the river. Her dress is a bruise. Air still,
and ink’s pooling in her pores, drips, she points a toe and stirs.
She blows upward at a plume and the branches frill.
Ink’s heavy, but Lacey’s idle-light wandering. Stops, chilled
at the site of a pulp pond, ribbon belt, assembly furor:
at the hands of large paper men. Lacey lands in their mill,
knee-high, real-D, dotting their pool of melted wood, skillfully
mushed, she eyes the mâché dropper. It fills plates and buries
the belt in goop and grill-press paper. Men of the same fiber,
the chain of them—pull sheets and pile them. They heartily swill
crayon wax mix drinks, draw on graphite, break from the stirrer.
Lacey has landed in a papeterie surreal, and she’s spilled
droplets into fresh canvas—bled out from her dress frills.

III. A French papeterie

The press chews—mâché—pulp to grit.
You watch, your hands held back. Or ground.
Released pounds spring on paper coils.
Card-stock is dense. Heavy, versatile,
Malleable, fixable, ú-
no, slide, due, slide, tre, slide–the belt
curls tight when men pull mashed sheets.
Anything you want it to be—

However many you want to make:
mold solo—solo uno. Love
tutti—cloned perfetto. Each and
every, one for all. Lost ‘n’ crowded.
Carbon copy men push paper,
re-print, re-press, photocopy
plain sheets for a pile or something
you ought to have gotten fresh first.

You’re as mundane as work you do.
Duplicate of the man inside you
filed away; as sliver just waiting
to happen and you happen upon
a ragazza ragged, and wet,
and stained. Picolo: at your calf
tromping across completed product,
Perfect eggshells painted in tar.

IV. Les pauvres

Kneading ink,
reeling like rubbing
compound. It’s
in my blood—
my sangre-stream. I’m numb, I swell,
they throw me. Slivers.
Once she falls (for a while) & through the attic skylight,
Lacey comes to consciousness in an absurd shop
where a giant nostalgic hoarder sleeps, lightly.
Eat me, eat me. She ragdoll rolled into a lump of slight
girls. Love me, love me. They live among tops
and treasures. She shrinks, cries at the skylight
Girls so little they make her cry: cute. She cries:
they’re famished. She cries: she’s pocket-sized. Hopping
from a plush, she falls through to a right
dress pocket of a girl. Orphans, they jump around in tight
circles. It’s toyless play. Jostled—small, she can’t stop.
Nostalgic for times when she had less space to fly.
The raggedy girl flounces her jumper skirt, grabs by
where Lacey sits in the corner of her pocket
and pulls out a small human who floated down lightly.
Politely, the girls exchange names. French, Spanish. Slightly,
Lacey is chased around the girls’ palms by finger legs cropped
at the pelvises. The girls stop at a sudden, bright light.
A nostalgic hoarder opens the door to a silver knight.

V. A collection of girls

A hoarder cares not for girls for
you. A hoarder collects and when
he’s drunk he purges. He purges
girls, this time. Adoption: as in
a trait, a habit, a home, a girl.
Five. Someone else might feed you so
you’ll go. You’ll do anything just
for a promise the size of crumbs.

Knights don’t eat little girls. Yes, right?
It’s witches. The shrinking girl might
be a witch’s trick. Abnormal
for a drink of water to go
from your hips so fast. To put on
feet and feet and pounds. It must be
magic tricks. A sizable trick.
Optical, optimal, harmless.

You’ll keep the girl in your pocket
in your pocket. Company in
case your sisters are pulled from you.
What a knight wants with orphans
is questionable at best, you think.
What a knight wants with orphans:
handiwork and mopping and the
small human hidden in your dress.

VI. Fit for a mouse

Riding side
saddle/side pocket—
it’s rough. It’s
wild, far, long,
dark. Through threads I see pavement
turn to grass, to stone.

The horse kicks to a start and girls tumble off,
Lacey is jostled from her pouch, through threads
a little too barren. The ground is hard but soft:
mossy. (Textures are more flexible than size, oft.)
And speaking of, size, mouse crumbs usually tend
to kick in later. The ground rumbles and lofty
Lacey expands, mightily. The castle is a trough
and a half away. A step away. She should have been
guilty enough to slow the grow. Stealing ground
bread crumbs from hungry orphans is sound
cause. And guilty people tend not to grow
so quickly, so largely. The castle’s a miniature
mansion. Mid-calf high just to the ground.
Lacey peeks inside the window, and coughs.
A giant girl humbled by gasps—just rude sounds.
Just wanted to play dollhouse. The little toys she found
in the servants stairwell, the hoarder’s shack, scoff.
Turned down, she cries, and tears tumble, softening
the blow. For her. Meteorites wet the hard ground.

Kelsey Nuttall has written a series of faux-romantic poems that turn Alice in Wonderland (and the Old World forms used therein) on their heads. She has been fascinated, lately, with the way stories of heroines she read as a girl influence her feminist outlook now–sometimes in ways she doesn’t want them to. Her series is an exploration of that.