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September 2015, vol 11 no 3

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Penny Harter

Requiem for the Bye-Lo Doll


The fading shoe-box on the shelf of my childhood closet holds the shattered porcelain head of my mother's Bye-Lo doll – a gift she gave me the Christmas I was ten. My excited hands lifted her out of the box, only to drop her onto the hard stones around the fireplace.

grandmother's attic –
sunlight breaking through
the dirty windowpane

I tried to sweep together the milky shards of her forehead, the curved and rosy fragments of her cheeks, the blue glass marbles of her eyes, while Mother, also on her hands and knees, cried.

after the fire
picking through the ashes
for old photos

I leave the shoe-box coffin on its shelf, then study the backs of my hands. Blue-green veins swell as they fall from my wrists to my knuckles, and I am caught in yet another memory – my mother and I comparing hands when she was my age – her telling me that mine would be like hers, the bloodlines showing more with every year.

holiday dinner –
again my daughter asks me
to make the gravy


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