Saturday, January 12, 2013

Three Dollar Doll


I bought her at the market for three dollars because I was prepared to walk away. I liked her face. I liked her because she was already wrecked. She’s collectable, said the seller, smoothing down her dress. But I only had three dollars. I shrugged and turned away. I was down three stalls when the seller called me back. The cotton cap into which her hair was threaded was peeling from her scalp, but her eyes were real and brown, with fine eyelashes. I liked the warm vinyl touch of her, the attention to detail: creases on the soles of her feet, the sway of her back, and I liked her serious face. We called her Feral Baby and the name stuck. She stuck too, turning up in family photographs, dragged around as we moved from house to house, a house for every year of your life, first to be unpacked from a cardboard box. She shared your bath, your bed, your washing basket cars. We settled finally, when you were five, a house in the bush on the fringe of the city. You grew older and she did not grow. Well, the cap of her hair loosened and finally came away altogether, exposing her flat skullshape. And one eye clouded over, but the other was still good, stoic and unblinking. She was left in the garden one day under the pear trees, mid-game, forgotten.

under the pear trees
garden grows wild
sky rushes overhead

leaves turn yellow
branches are bared
frost on the buds
blossoms loosen from the tree
hard nubs mellow into
soft fruit wasp under the skin

birds eat the last fermenting pear
as the first leaf falls
the sun is a circle in the sky

damp with soil and neglect
the nameless doll
waits

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