on the shelf

Posted by on Aug 7, 2012 in Family, Learning, Wholehearted, Writing | 0 comments

The prompt for this poem was to show sadness

A patina of dust
dulls the lace of my shawl
and fringe of my mob-cap.
My bare feet poke out
from faded yellow
hand sewn cotton.
Where are my shoes!
Doesn’t she think how
cold
my feet must be?
No—she doesn’t.

I stare and see her
pass by my
line of sight.
Let’s play, I cry.
Her grown up ears
no longer register
the pitch of my voice.
She walks by.
Tears well
in my
moss green eyes.
I long to blink
and let them
trail a streak of
grime down my
porcelain cheeks.
Would she notice
then?
Perhaps pick me
up in
once miniature
mother practicing
hands?
Wipe my face
and smile down
at me
with those same
moss green eyes?
Cradle me on her
shoulder
and pat the dust
from my dress?

Months after her
birth
her mother saw
my head—only that,
in a display window.
She told us she froze
in place—
the face on the head,
(my head!)
was the
spitting image
of her baby girl’s.
Her mother said she
waved her
baby’s photo wildly
—the clerk
gasped.
The cost was
steep
and so she chose
a plaster body that
would fit.
My head.
I was whole
wrapped
naked in a box.

I was a gift
she longed to earn.
I yearned for her
touch and watched
her grow from
afar
on a similar shelf.
When pudgy arms
and legs
shot into skinny
coltish limbs
the day came that
I was birthed,
wrapped in swaddling
and laid in the arms
of my newly born
Mother.
She christened me
Tammy
but pretended I was
Baby Jesus.
My lacy bonnet
does not hide
close cropped hair
from a scissor
experiment  gone awry.
My bald china pate sports
a spiderweb
of cracks from
many breaks.
Falls
we took together.
Elmer’s was a
well used tool
and I
bear the scars
of being loved.

Years I waited.
Watching from
on high.
And was rewarded
with
new dresses and
hats and slippers.
Tea parties,
carriage rides, then
twirling
to loud music.
Secrets. Stories.
Shy smiles.
Even lies and
tears.
And some days
yelling
interspersed with
curses.
Peace prevailed
but our time together
dwindled.

Until now.
I sit.
Barefooted.
Measuring the
dust
with unblinking eyes.
Achingly anticipating
the moment her hands
will lift me down
like a broken bird
and swipe a soft
rag over my body.
Erasing my pain.
Her humming will falter,
her voice will
crack like
my head—
Oh baby, look at
you.
Let’s clean you up!
I’ve endured the ache of
being
forgotten
for this moment.
In her hands
I am
reborn.

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