Child's Play

by Cecily Hamlin Wells

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.

Cecily Hamlin Wells has published poems and short fiction in Long Story Short, Wild Goose Poetry Review, The Great Smokies Review, MoonShine Review, Kakalak, and in several anthologies including Echoes Across the Blue Ridge. In addition, her two entries in the Writer’s Digest 5th Annual Poetry Competition were published and received honorable mention.

About Child’s Play—A class exercise focused on triggers that poets can use to kick-start their poetic juices. This led me to sift through a series of prompts and to settle on a toy to write about and decide if it expresses “… any irony or contradiction between you the child and you the adult.” You will see that it did.