When I was three my grandmother gave me a fancy baby doll with a wooden chest full of lovely clothes. It had staring, startled, cold eyes and arms and legs permanently thrown out as if to stop itself from falling. I cut its hair back to the root, colored in its face with crayons, and hanged it by the neck from the stair railing with a spare piece of string that I can only assume I was saving for just such an occasion. Eventually I hauled the thing up and let it live, but I don’t think I went so far as to name it or give it any motherly care, such as wrapping it in a blanket, carrying it around tenderly, or conscientiously taking it for a walk in a baby carriage. No one bothered giving me any more dolls for the remainder of my childhood, which was fine with me because I had a lot of reading to do.
a clutch of duck eggs
the corner of the backyard
where we bury things
Pregnant with my flesh-and-blood child a couple of decades later, I explained to my husband, repeatedly, in increasingly panicked tones, that I had absolutely no idea how to care for an infant and was terrified by the very idea. I asked him if we could go to the kind of parenting class where they give you a fake baby—okay, a doll—to practice carrying around and burping and diapering and so on. He told me I didn’t need a class, it was easy and I would get the hang of it in no time, and this turned out to be true. Which was a relief, because even the word “doll” still gives me the creeps.
the chill of
prose: here, now
“a clutch”: A Hundred Gourds 1.1
“spring snow”: Modern Haiku 42.2
2 thoughts on “back to the root”
I also used to hang my dolls by the neck… And when first
Pregnant I dreamed over and over of falling down while carrying
My Son around, unable to get my footing even on a flat surface.
Now he is a perfect 31 year old living in Paris and I have taken to
falling down without him.
Ha! Yes, mine is 20 now, also perfect, I’m quite glad I mastered the skills necessary to keep him alive. 😉