In Wonderland

Here madness lies waiting, swells under the surface. It is never allowed to erupt. Suppressed, things begin to echo. They say that when something is repeated enough, you don’t even notice it anymore.

Doesn’t mean it’s not there.

See,

“one can't build little white picket fences to keep the nightmares out” (Anne Sexton).

Alice spends most of her time searching for sanity. Her madness stopped dressing up, see: no more hats at tea parties, no rabbits in waistcoats, and certainly no pretty blue dresses. Pretty blue dresses wrap madness in the mundane, tie a bow around it to stop her from coming undone, and isn’t she just the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen?

Alice spends most of her time falling down rabbit holes.

Madness stopped dressing up, see:

No more hats at tea parties, no rabbits in waistcoats,

But there were lots of drink me bottles she’d never tried.

Like everyone trapped in wonderlands, Alice seeks sanity through her dreams. Time’s signature reminds her all the while of what she leaves behind, all the while she keeps falling, falls through a crack in the surface. Dreams find the crack in the surface. See, madness was festering, stored underneath things, confined in coherency, order. Waking up means seeing his blank faces, so Alice falls down rabbit holes instead.

Somehow as she fell, clocks lined the walls,

Stopped clocks on the walls.

Falling through a rip in the stagnancy,

Madness was stagnancy,

Became clarity, pulled out some seams and through Alice fell.

Through clocks, through numbers frozen on faces

Through blank faces without top hats.

Alice dreams of cave-like undergrounds, selves lifted from carpets of sawdust and matches. She lies there for the crawling sensation, a burial sans coffin. Alice like Polynices, dust piled on top, spilling down her sides, creeping down them slowly. Perverse, Alice. Alice like Antigone, in empty tomb. Falling to dissolution—a disappearance that ravages whole parts of selves lifted from carpets. The leftover pieces retain too much substance to haunt, not enough to stop Alice from falling down rabbit holes, too much to prevent her from reaching bottom.

At the bottom, if she reaches it, is a table

lined with drink me bottles she’ll never try.

Steps through the door to find sanity, the grin is not mad.

The smoke is not suffocating.

Breathe, see.

Some nights Alice dreams about burning. See, now she’s trapped in the house, now girls are trapped in houses, now she can’t get out. And around her things are burning. Like throwing matches into sawdust, this time without the stagnancy: things ignite. Alice is scared of the stillness of things. She longs for immolation, to sharpen mealy self-loathing into clarity, to burn down bedlam. See, Alice has to burn herself out of the house, out of his house.

See, now she’s stuck in house

see now girl’s stuck in house

see now we’ll burn her out

like immolation

see flames sharpen clarity.

Sometimes Alice can see his grin through the smoke. The grin is not mad—its sanity is startling. The smoke is not suffocating. It merely obscures her needing—Alice is aching with need. Stagnancy fails to satiate, and she wonders what sort of greed it requires to demand something more than stability. Alice cannot rely on his stability, so Alice throws herself down rabbit holes.

like

burn see smoke (the smoke is not suffocating)

see through smoke grin like cheshire cat (the grin is not mad)

see roads that lead to anywhere really.

But Alice spends most of her time going somewhere,

falls down rabbit holes to get anywhere,

to regain sanity.

Alice does not drink anything, sometimes Alice forgets to eat anything. She will not drink so that she can retain a semblance of control. She forgets to eat because of her chaos. Sober so that she will remember what he has done, starving so that the gnawing obscures other things (his grin in the smoke). Alice does not drink before falling. Alice has never reached bottom. She is still waiting for sanity.

Falling down rabbit holes is hard without the proper medication.

Alice has never been one for medication,

the drink me bottle remains untouched.

Alice encounters keyholes with no keys. The doors are rarely unlocked and so Alice is trapped inside, trapped outside home. She dreamed that the house burned down, remember? His clocks line her rabbit holes, she has not reached bottom yet—falling past him eternally, Alice squeezes her eyes shut on the way down rabbit holes. Opening them means seeing his blank faces. Things get a little dirty down rabbit holes, and Alice’s dress needs laundering. See, pretty blue dresses can’t quite make this falling mundane. Alice is trying to regain sanity.

Madness stopped dressing up see,

No more perfect pinafores and blue dresses.

Things get a little dirty down rabbit holes. See

clocks lining rabbit holes,

clocks stopped on walls of rabbit holes—

Alice spends most of her time falling.

Of inner oceans Alice knows only salt, the sort that comes when she turns to look back, or around. Alice’s tears swell to form his seasoning—weep into the shaker Alice, let things evaporate. Alice knows what it tastes like when she is drowning.

“The trouble was not / in the kitchen or the tulips / but only in my head, my head”

(Anne Sexton)