“Thine eyes did see mine unfinished substance …”
In a miniature bed you lie, handkerchief for a blanket,
head so light it makes no indent in your tiny pillow.
Assemblage of wire and clay, glass and graphite, you are
an outpouring of love, the closest I have to progeny.
Dry slit of mouth, pained and vivid as a cold sore,
expression caught between startle and melancholy.
I dreamt once that you came to life, and ran from me.
I called you – but could not find your name.
At the bottom of my grandparent’s garden, I found you
in the shadows beyond the woodshed where,
a lifetime ago, I had loitered, morose beneath plum trees,
the summer my cousin died. Little doll, you were radiant.
Inside your hollow head, a ripening;
glass eyes gleaming, your tombstone pallor thawing.
Tell me your name.
Leaning in, you whispered a name so plain and small
I could not bring myself to repeat it.
But to be a mother is to accept the ways
in which our children fail to shine.
So I said your name and colour rose in your cheeks,
brittle fingers flexed and you moved towards me,
teeth chattering, stick-thin arms
winding tight around my pulsing neck.