A Talking Doll that No Longer Speaks

by Eileen Malone

Searching the thrift shop for what I don’t need, wasting time
I don’t have, I pull from the top of the basket of broken dolls
a talking doll that no longer speaks even when


resting my ear on the sepia stained pink tuftaffeta of her chest
even as I rock her, I hear nothing, held up, she stares at me
with sable-lashed paralyzed blue eyes that refuse to shut when
I put her down, she stares without seeing


shhh, be a doll, my mother’s boyfriend used to say and I became
one the way he wanted me to and he kept bringing me more dolls
and more dolls and I never told, even as our secrets secreted


naturally, like outdoors entered indoors, the way our bathroom
leaked the honey of late sunlight congealing on the lip of the sink


forced, the way a toothpick slid into a risen but not yet fully baked
muffin pulling out roughly sticky with bits of batter


wildly, tangled, overgrown with tendrils that sat camouflaged
stuck too long on park benches talking to themselves


scavenging, like vultures that settled into a cold circling, observing
watchfully waiting


after he left, my mother said now look at what you’ve done you
lying, ungrateful child, and I looked but couldn’t see beyond
childhood things that seem less my fault now than I thought
they were then and when I think about the dolls I had as a little
girl, I think about the shame of having too much body, too
much need, too much pain, how secrets I think I kept alive
actually kept me, and how talking dolls discarded in thrift shops
and attics no longer speak.