My Favorite Doll

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Grandmother catches rain in

a rain barrel – near rows of dirt.
I play as my small fingers twist
a dented handle, like those I use
to turn on a faucet in our kitchen,
this one attached to a barrel –
that is, if eyes from upstairs on
the second floor aren’t watching
me.

A girlfriend of mine, from across
a cut off, as to which school we
attend, just across the street – she
came to my birthday – brought me
a new set of plastic plates, cups,
spoons, cups, and a tea pot.

So, she made me so happy, I loved
red and white. I wonder if she picked
them out? I bet it was her Mama.

I fill white and red cups with water
from the old rusty barrel – serve my
dolls a special cup of tea.

In the middle of our tea party my
Mama complains from our side porch
about that clothes line stuck in the
center of our yard. I tell my dolls to
close their ears, not to listen to Mama.

I tell my doll, my favorite – she sits to
the left, with long reddish brown hair
and blue eyes, I talk to her as if she
were my sister – explaining a line of
rope has to divide our space to dry
clothes. She listens through closed
ears.

A few years ago my father’s father
chopped down a cherry tree, and an
apple tree, but we still have the pear
tree – growing fuzzy pears.

Pears are hard, but Grandma slices
them with her hands, her thumb sticks
out, she wants me to eat pears but I
don’t. She tells me, “Come on, they
are good for you,” still I say no.

So my tea party doesn’t include any
pears for dessert. Instead of pears,
we have red beans, like the plates,
I had to learn how to remove them
placing my little hand at the very top
of the stem, quickly pulling down – all
those green stems fall off with red beans
so I am ready, to serve those dolls.

Good thing we live on a corner lot,
where our sidewalk is longer – those
bushes with beans grow from one end
to the other. Grandmother – she sweats
when trimming those bushes, I stare,
watch – her arms opening – closing
holding big scissors.

I know she won’t ruin those red beans
because they just grow and she sweats
all summer, the same thing. Did I tell you
I mix mud from dirt near our barrel into
beans for mud pies. My dolls love mud
pies for a special treat.

Mama watches me from the side porch,
she isn’t complaining about our clothes
line, she is leaning over a yellow railing –
it was loose last week but Papa, he fixed
it. On our front porch Mama leans to snip
roses, “Seven Sisters,” even if she hates
them she snips them – places them onto
our kitchen table. Perhaps, I should have
flowers for my dolls?

When I ask my dolls, they don’t talk, all
they do is stare back, kind of like Mama’s
eyes when she stares at me, I know what
she wants. I think everyone stares in
my neighborhood including my neighbors,
Mama, Grandmother, and especially –
our grocery man.

I carry my favorite doll around to our front
porch, Mama is resting on our metal milk
box, inside I hide my paper dolls.

Next to Mama is her opened bottle of “Schlitz”
beer, some cut cheese, and lotion to tan
her pure white skin. And, her open pack
of “Chesterfield” cigarettes. When she
sucks in smoke she holds it inside for a long
time. Sometimes smoke comes out her nose,
circles her head, and reaches up to touch the
highest rose, those “Seven Sisters.”

Mother was one of five sisters. But, who
knows, she could have had a doll she called
a sister too…

Nancy Duci Denofio – all rights reserved@2011

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