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Sharon Doyle

The Girl Inside the Doll


tosses blueberries around and
around in her mouth, her tongue
warms the taut globes one by one, finally
punctures—mashes the bruises to a pulpy
sharpness not quite
sour like cherries.

From the plate on
her lap she takes warm cuts
of bread her mother spooned with
peppery onion butter.
The girl kneaded the
dough herself at dawn today,
right after she dressed because
she loves how its softness gives
when she palms wheat powder
into the live elastic ball, how the air
puffs flour when she
spanks the ball, lays it out
to rise.

Though she is only five, the blind girl
knits, too—all the way through
the tolling of the mourning dove,
the evangelism of the Baptist church bells,
even through the tick-tatting
of her needles—knows that
berry blue and cherry red
are in her pattern because
her mother tells her so.

It’s a Victorian afternoon
in the farm cottage in summer New Hampshire.
Laura takes her mother’s hand
to get her attention. Her mother
draws the brocade drapes
to shut away August heat.
Little farm girls from
all the cottages around
poke out the eyes
of their new dolls
and name them Laura.


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