Playing Pretend

her bookshelf held 
little bird nests 
chipped mugs 
a key that unlocked nothing

objects balanced precariously above novels that smelled like her grandmother
she stacked spines according to texture
the way the faded name of the author felt underneath her fingertips

i fixated on the bookshelf as we spoke
she sat at the kitchen table and dangled her bare feet over stained tiles 
she skipped on her tiptoes to the microwave when it beeped

pushing aside the
grocery receipts
dirty spatulas
torn magazines from last May

she had curled her hair immaculately that morning
it sparkled like sand in sunlight under the half-lit chandelier 
hanging crookedly by a few sagging wires but holding on nevertheless

her necklaces sat perfectly above her shirt collar 
as if some deity ensured every minute that they would not tangle,
that she smelt only of roses, that she sang when she spoke

and i admired her when i forgot
the candy wrappers between the seat cushions
the bang of the picture frames when they fell
the way she looked in the mirror without acknowledging the litter behind it

she was perfection until she was not
and we both pretended like i hadn’t noticed

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