I remember Sarah’s bedroom better than my own—
snow-white ruffled organdy curtains and spread,
built-in cubbies for toys,
the skinny room running parallel, home
to dolls in cribs, carriages, and bassinets,
dolls made of china, cloth, composition,
dolls with magic skin, kapok-stuffed bodies,
dolls that cried Mama,
one doll costumed in a white faille pin tuck christening dress.
Sarah let me play with them
but not her fragile Nancy Ann Story Book Dolls,
dozens of diminutive bisque dolls with hand painted faces,
their variety of outfits secured
with a gold or silver safety pin,
— Cinderella, Winter,
Little Red Riding Hood, Tuesday, April—
a gold foil wrist tag identifying each by name.
How could one person have so many dolls?
Eight birthdays didn’t seem enough.
The only dolls I had were paper.
I wanted a Story Book Doll.
We strolled home after school one afternoon,
her mother greeting us, as she often did.
This day she met us in the driveway,
still in her nightgown, a gown so sheer
I had to look away, then up
into her bruised black eyes.