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 did i leave them or did they

leave me; i don’t remember

any farewells, i didn’t ask about

their futures or dream we were

re-united; i can still glimpse

joan, i dropped her on the dirt

at the bottom of the toddlers’

slippery dip as i ran off to climb

the high ladder of the bigger dip,

the silver coated letters of its rungs

calling up up higher higher, for that

thrill of whooshing down, airborn

- i didn’t need a doll’s hand then,

joan the felt doll, did she feel

anything – her mouth smitten with

dark sand as i flew down, my mouth

wide open to adventure’s wind


margaret and sharon

stuffed together in their blue

white pram for a day at the beach

in the big front garden, swimming

lessons through the bindi-eyed

tormented grass they didn’t

understand you had to kick your

legs, they stared at you in doll

solemnity their thick eyelashes

didn’t seem to care as they filled

up with ants –


dinah my china doll

was the one who seemed

alive, or was it more my

guilt that thrived, at not

being able to restore her

black forehead’s lacquered

gloss, chipped when she and

i fell down the back porch

steps the scribbled greyblack

pencil marks across the gap

where black paint had chipped

to pink – an early moment of

a buried sense of failure to get

things exactly right


like a large almond

the miniature box of worry

dolls, each smaller than a

match, sits there on a bookshelf

fading in the sunlight like all my

good intentions down the multiplying

years; these dolls stay pristine, bright

inside like cocktail onions – i do all

the worrying, bleached of any colour,

while individually unnamed they bide

their time -  


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