DOLL-BEFORE HER 'PROBLEMS'
Devil Doll
by Pattie PalmerBaker

While my sister and I roll down
the forever front lawn,
Crazy Doll murders our pretty dolls,
maims the pretend babies,
bites holes in our biggest teddy bear.

After, we find her under the bed splayed,
her tufted head turned away,
blue eyes glassed-over.
No use talking to her, she is tranced out
and our sentences rock and buckle.
Time to toss her into the closet of the asylum.

A few weeks later her sobs
I’ve changed I will never again
uncurl our rolled-up hearts.
We open the black-filled closet drawer,
our tender hands free her.
Once again we believe her,
once again we forgive her.

As always Crazy Doll cracks.
Once again dead dolls litter the floor,
the injured ones writhe when we daub
iodine on their open wounds.

Crazy Doll lies across my lap.
The closet for the insane
does not a sane doll make
I say to my little sister
who rounds her china-blue eyes,
leans close and whispers
she is a devil-doll.

In the pantry under us
heavy footfalls break the air.
A cupboard whines open,
the cork squeaks out of a bottle.
Silence.

Through clenched teeth my sister
squeezes the question,
is Daddy drinking again?
For a second I forget how to breathe.
Then Crazy Doll squirms in my lap,
begs again for another second chance.

I shake her until her body whiplashes.
NO MORE CHANCES,
off your head off!
My sister slits her eyes, licks her lips,
yes yes she breathes.

PHOTOGRAPH: An approximation of Devil Doll.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My sister and I did not play sweet mother-baby games with our dolls, but, as shown in  “Devil Doll,” used them to express pain and confusion about our troubled childhood.

Pattie Palmer-Baker1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pattie PalmerBaker’s creative output is not always but often a partnership between poetry and the book arts of calligraphy and paste paper. Whether she is writing a poem or creating an artwork springing from her poetry, she considers herself a translator of the inner world into media that moves the reader away from and out of his/her habitual perception of the world – in this particular poem: how we perceive little girls and their dolls.