It didn't look that tall on the outside.
Maybe it's the funny way the doorways are shaped,
or the slanted ceilings, that make it look so big
that you could take one wrong turn
and be lost in the passageways.
Or maybe it's the cupboards. They're
everywhere, and you can't stop
opening them. Why else did you come,
if not to look inside the cupboards?
The first one you open is full of mice,
standing there patiently,
holding their heads before them on tiny plates.
You don't even hear them startle
when you slam the door closed again.
The next cupboard lets out a glow when you open it,
from the turquoise flower growing from its base.
Cupboard after cupboard,
doors all around;
the small one, up high, holds a mirror that shows
a fire sparking to life and a salamander being born from the flames, then another and another, and the whole swarm climbs the smoke into the sky where they land in the branches of a cherry tree, turning the bark to ash, and crawl to where the cherries hang and eat them and spit them out again as glowing embers, and finally you can look away
and close the door, and open the next one,
and there are the glowing cherries.
Door after door.
A mossy stone, humming gently.
A single glove.
A flood—you sputter, force the door shut,
and wipe the water off your face.
A cake shaped like a beetle.
The next room.
A cave, or a tunnel, almost large enough to enter,
with giggles from inside coming closer and closer until
you close the door.
Behind one door is another door... and another...
and so on until there's only a bare wall.
“Sorry about that,” whispers a voice from
the next cupboard. “A petty trick, I know.”
Behind the next door a glass snake rears up,
hissing, baring fangs, and the door after that
holds the world.
You blink. Yes, the same world you left.
It's the exit. You look behind you, and
back outside, and then
you take it.