Archives for posts with tag: dolls

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Melissa, in holiday red
by Emalisa Rose

You wouldn’t part with her.
Now you don’t want her.
She sits in the chair in your room
where once I had rocked you
singing pink lullabies
from the birds to the sky.

She still has those braids, though
you tried twice to cut them.
A little disheveled, in a holiday
dress, I crocheted for Christmas.

She was warm in the rain, on
those nights when you’d hug her.
She reminds me of who were then
and where we are now.

I ask if you’d want her
for the girl or the boy
that now blooms in your belly.

You say “It’s okay, Mom.
I don’t have a room plan, yet.”

The doll stays with me
Her name is Melissa.
She sits on the rocking chair
with your smile in her eyes.

PHOTO: Melissa, doll crocheted by the author.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Several years after my daughter moved out, I was about to redo her room. I looked around the room and was filled with warm memories, when I saw her favorite doll, Melissa, that I crocheted for her one Christmas. I offered it to my daughter when she was about to have her own child. She said she didn’t have a room theme or place for it, yet. I decided to keep it. This poem is based on that memory of a doll that brought such happiness to my little girl. The art of crochet brings much happiness to me. I crochet dolls, teddy bears, and blankets, which I donate.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: When not writing, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting and crocheting. She volunteers in animal rescue and walks with a birding group on Sundays. Her work has appeared in Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Spillwords, The Beatnik Cowboy, and other great places. Her latest collection is On the whims of the crosscurrents, published by Red Wolf Editions.

Gloria and I
Dressed Alike
by Margaret Duda

Gloria resembled me with dark hair,
softly curled on a wig of mohair,
realistic dark glass eyes that blinked,
and a composition head and limbs
made of sawdust, glue and cornstarch
attached to a soft, stuffed cloth torso.

Mama decided we would surprise
Papa for his birthday and sewed
matching dresses of dark gold satin
for Gloria and me on her treadle machine.
Each dress had a wide gathered collar
and puffy short sleeves and we wore
matching patent leather shoes. Mama
called them our go to meeting outfits.

Excitement started as soon as we took
our padded seats on the train
and others passed us in the aisle.
Women stopped to stare at us
and all took time to comment.

Oh, look, she is dressed like her doll.
I love the matching dresses.
You are a very lucky little girl
to have such a clever Mama.
You and your doll are so pretty.

Matching. Lucky. Clever.
I soaked up the new words,
asking Mama the meaning of each,
as I slowly learned more English
every weekend on the hissing train,
bucking us forward on rapid stops.

When we arrived, Papa was waiting
on the platform. The door opened,
and Gloria and I ran into his arms.
“You both look beautiful,” Papa said.
“I have a clever Mama,” I told him,
showing off new linguistic skills
“Yes, you do, Mancika,” Papa agreed,
smiling at Mama with appreciation.

PHOTO: The author with her beloved doll and traveling companion, Gloria.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 1946, when we lived in Watertown, New York, my father took a better job in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Since I was in kindergarten, my mother said we could join him when I finished the school year. My father took the train to see us every other weekend and on alternate weekends, we took the train to Bridgeport. Since my parents immigrated from Hungary in the 1920s, we spoke Hungarian at home as we lived near Hungarian friends and relatives. My mother taught me English six months before I started school, and by the second half of the year, I spoke and read it well for a five-year-old, but learned new words every other week on the train. I always took Gloria, my favorite doll, with me, and my mother made us matching dresses to surprise my father on his birthday and gave him a photo of me in the dress. Seventy-five years later, I found Gloria tucked away safely in one of my closets. Her curls were gone from all the brushing and small cracks could be seen on her composition face and limbs, but she still wore the go-to-meeting dress and reminded me of the English words I’d learned on the train. I learned to love traveling on those trips and traveled to more than 40 countries as a travel photographer and studied six languages later in life. I had to smile when the American Girl doll with matching clothes for a little girl came out and bought a doll and a matching dress for the four granddaughters I had then.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a photo of me and four of my six granddaughters (two were yet to be born) with the American Girl dolls I bought, as I remembered how much I’d loved the matching dresses my mother had made. To show how long ago this photo was taken, the granddaughter to my left just graduated from law school and the one on the right is in her second year of dental school, the one on the lower left is doing an MFA in creative writing at Columbia, and the one on the lower right is studying cognitive science in college.  How time does fly!

Mancika 1 in dress

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is the “go to meeting dress” that my mother made. She gave my father this photo of me — I was then known as Mancika — to keep while he was working in Connecticut. I don’t have a photo of myself and Gloria in the matching dresses.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As a poet, Margaret Duda has had numerous poems published during the past year in Silver Birch Press, THE  POET (UK) anthology entitled Friends and Friendships (Vol. 1), the anthology Around the World: Landscapes and Cityscapes, A Love Letter (or Poem) to... anthology, several poems on Connections and Creativity in Challenging Times, and three poems in Viral Imaginations: Covid-19. As a short story writer, she has had her work published in The Kansas Quarterly, the University Review, the Michigan Quarterly Review, the South Carolina Review, Fine Arts Discovery, Crosscurrents, Venture, Green River Review, and other journals. One of her short stories made the Distinctive List of Best American Short Stories. She has written five books of nonfiction, the latest are Four Centuries of Silver and Traditional Chinese Toggles: Counterweights and Charms. Listed in Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2021, she is currently working on the final draft of an immigrant family saga novel set in a steel mill town from 1910 to 1920.

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Inga Stinkfinger
by Julie Standig

He told the child that was its name,
and the girl looked at him
with ginormous disappointment.

It was a far cry from what she wanted,
plus it smelled, a musty, moldy—plastic
odor that invaded her nostrils.

Inga was a first edition troll doll,
another Dam doll from Denmark,
a 60s thing. The original original troll.

The child didn’t care—wanted a baby doll,
cuddly and soft with pink rosy cheeks,
pouty-mouthed, maybe a touch of blonde hair.

This doll, not only stunk, she was seriously
ugly—all 7 inches of her—with wild, black
untamed, pigtailed hair

tied up with a Kelly green felt fabric
that matched her skirt, and suspenders.
Even the buttons were made of felt.

The eyes were bulging brown, with laugh
wrinkles, that matched the deep lines
surrounding a broad smile and puffed cheeks.

Her feet were squat, fat moveable legs,
hands large and fingers outspread
all four of them, to match the four fat toes.

The gifter looked hard at his daughter:
no one wanted to take her since she is so ugly,
but I knew you would love her in spite of that.

And the girl was never one to disappoint.

PHOTO: DAM Troll Doll, circa 1960s, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Recently I had come across a photograph of an original DAM troll doll and it struck a chord. I had kept one my father gave me for many, many years and during one of my last moves decided to toss it because it was moldy and it seemed time. But I was wrong. Nothing I could do to get it back and buying an old expensive replacement wouldn’t help. So I wrote this poem and for me that did the trick.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A lifetime New Yorker, Julie Standig now writes with two amazing poetry groups, Marie Kane’s KT and the Stalwart Poets. She has been published in Alehouse Press, Sadie Girl Press, After Happy Hour Review, Schuylkill Journal Review, US1 Poets/Del Val, Gyroscope Review, as well as online journals. Her first chapbook, Memsahib Memoir, was released by Plan B Press in 2017, and an upcoming collection, The Forsaken Little Black Book, will be released Fall 2022 by Kelsay Books. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with her husband and their springer spaniel.

Gail and Susan Yvonne.Wasigan
My Susan Yvonne
by Gail Fishman Gerwin

     Dy-Dee . . . an overwhelming
     overnight success.
     —Playthings Magazine (April 1934)

A little metal box, holding nickels, dimes,
a little girl’s cache, maybe from allowance,
maybe from my parents’ good-hearted indulgence
during the years when parents across an ocean
were herded to ghettos and lost to family forever.

A little metal box, money saved, maybe padded
when I didn’t look, maybe matched penny for penny
like corporations willing to bolster alumni donations
for the sake of attracting the cream.

A little metal box, hidden in the maple bookshelf
that sat at the foot of the bed in the room I shared
with my teenage sister who cut my bangs too short
when my parents were out dancing.

Chief operating officer of my own corporation,
I’d check the box daily, count the change,
hungry for the moment that came sometime
in my ninth year.

Maybe it was twenty-eight dollars, maybe more,
less, but enough to beg my father to take time off
from loading the trucks to drive downtown
to Quackenbush’s on Main Street, where my
dream baby sat in a lighted display case
with her clones, all adorned in white organdy.

My Dy-dee doll, perfect hardened head, brown hair
painted in curls that would never wilt, lifelike ears,
moveable arms and legs that sounded like creaking doors,
hazel eyes that closed for sleep, pursed mouth
with a hole for a pointed-nipple bottle.
She’d drink, then pee through another hole,
this one on her diapered buttock.

I named her Susan Yvonne, Susan, the name I
wished for myself, Yvonne for the glamorous star
who vamped onscreen in theaters that marked
Paterson’s glory days.

Beautiful Susan Yvonne, docile in her stiffness,
propped in a pram, marched in my beaming motherhood
up and down Madison Avenue. Gracie down the street
didn’t own one, neither did Nancy, who made it
her business to call me dirty Jew dirty Jew.

When Susan visited me in summer camp,
she sat on my bunk cot’s itchy wool blanket,
garnered more farewell kisses than my parents
at the end of the weekend. When visits with hugs
were forbidden (polio rampaging through New Jersey
towns), she curled in my mother’s arms across the dirt
road, her chubby arms waving hello, then goodbye,
puppet doll who couldn’t see my tears though my
mother’s soaked her glossy head.

My new husband and I pretended she was
our own baby, offered her a spot on our pillows
until our first daughter arrived, and she took
her place on the closet shelf next to our childhood
comic book collection.

I wonder, could she see our girls grow, could she hear
me lament the son who never came home, did she glimpse
the scar on my breast that could not be painted away
like the scratch on her head, easily mended in the
doll hospital, Daddy’s maroon Pontiac her ambulance.

Today she sits atop a tall bookcase, watches
grandchildren flit around the upstairs hall,
her yellowed organdy hat in shreds, her face
as perfect as it was on the Quackenbush
shelf, her forever youth a reminder
of my parents’ devotion, of my hope.

SOURCE: “My Susan Yvonne” first appeared in Dear Kinfolk (ChayaCairn Press, 2013).

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a child with Susan Yvonne.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: With apologies to Descartes, I write, therefore I am. I find my comfort in the narrative, although I exercise craft by penning in formal styles. I write for myself, for readers who want to know more about me, but primarily for my grandchildren who someday will be able to hold a piece of me, their Nana, in their hands and perhaps feel the need to tell their own stories to the generations that follow. “My Susan Yvonne” captures a time in my life that remains more clear than recent yesterdays. Though my parents are gone, I can capture their love through poetry, and many friendships from those long-ago days have endured.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gail Fishman Gerwin has authored two poetry collections—2010 Paterson Poetry Prize finalist Sugar and Sand and 2013 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence designee Dear Kinfolk ( Her poetry, essays, fiction, and plays are featured in literary journals, newspapers and magazines, and onstage. She presents readings, facilitates writing workshops, and is currently is developing a third collection.