From Issue 23: The Doll

Joan Colby

At Marshall Fields that year
When I was eight,
They took a photograph to make
A doll with my face,
My wavy auburn hair.

I unwrapped that doll
On Christmas day. She had
A wardrobe of clothes
Just like mine. A green wool coat
Trimmed with muskrat fur,
A taffeta skirt and lace collared blouse,
A skating outfit and small white skates,
Flannel pajamas and scratchy underwear,
All sewn by my mother
Late at night on the Singer.

The doll was eerie, my
Doppelganger. A better child
Than I would ever be.
She had a pimpled leather prayer book
Fit for a believer,
Unlike me.

She sat in my bedroom
On a quilted chair
Before the vanity mirror
Where we were both reflected.
Her hair brushed to shine,
Her smile impassive,
Her complexion putty-colored
Minus my freckles, her brown eyes kind
And compliant.

My mother named her Dolores, her choice
For me vetoed by my father who said
It meant sorrow.
Dolores’ legs bent
So she could kneel
With her little rosary
In her little fingers.

 

Joan Colby’s Selected Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage was awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her recent books include Carnival  from FutureCycle Press, The Seven Heavenly Virtues from Kelsay Books and Her Heartsongs from Presa Press. Her latest book, just published is Joyriding to Nightfall from FutureCycle Press.

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