In the Land
David C. Kopaska-Merkel
At first, Alice enjoyed the
The giants stared,
They gently stroked her hair
With their huge fingertips;
What they wanted, she wasn’t sure,
But they watched almost every minute
of her day
(every room in the dolls’ house
could be seen from outside,
except the bathroom—she dressed
She was allowed to wander the big
But a servant kept close,
So she wouldn’t be stepped on, they
But also to keep her from escaping.
The beanstalk had been chopped down,
So she couldn’t get home, anyway.
Dinner was excruciating:
No matter how many phone books
Were stacked on the chair
She couldn't reach her plate,
She couldn’t lift the fork,
So she had to eat with her hands,
And she got so thirsty,
But couldn't lift her glass.
When would dinner end?
Nights were bad, too:
She tossed and turned;
Each time she woke,
A great eye loomed at the window,
It seemed to undress her with its
And there were noises;
She remembered lying awake,
Listening to her 13-year-old
And the thin wall between their
These noises were louder.
By day, the atmosphere had changed,
How could a boy 15 feet tall
Lurk and slink around corners?
But he was everywhere,
Licking his lips,
Hands deep in his pockets;
She couldn’t wait to get back
To the dollhouse
And lock herself in the bathroom.
She could hear him
When they were alone together,
She in the tiny room,
He just outside the house,
Crouched beside the table,
Pants probably still around his
When she found the bottle,
“Drink me” tied on with string,
She didn’t read the warnings,
She chugged it.
After that, any fascination
The giants had had with her was
She was just an ordinary girl,
A doll no longer.
C. Kopaska-Merkel edited Star*line in the late ‘90s, and later served as
SFPA President. He won the Rhysling award (long poem) in 2006 for “The Tin Men,”
a collaboration with Kendall Evans, and has edited two Rhysling anthologies. He
twice took second place Elgin awards: for
SETI Hits Paydirt, 2015, and The Edible
Zoo, 2014. He was voted SFPA Grand Master in 2017. His poetry has been
published in scores of venues, including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons,
Polu Texni, Illumen, and Night Cry. He is the author of 31
books; several are available on Smashwords and Amazon. The newest is a poetry collection, The
Ambassador Takes One for the Team, from Diminuendo Press. Kopaska-Merkel edits and publishes Dreams
and Nightmares, a genre poetry zine in its 34th year of publication. Blog: http://dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com/ @DavidKM on
Twitter. He and his wife live in a 120-year-old
farmhouse. He shares a keyboard with two cats.