Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Secret

Before you read the poem, I'd like you to know that this doll did exist! It lived on for the whole of my mother's life long after I had forgotten all about it. It was tucked into the guestroom bed alongside a teddy-bear she called 'Teddy Oliver'. I don't know why he had that name. I never asked her and she died in 1990. There are so many unanswered questions in my mind. Did my mother have no dolls as a little girl? I never had a teddy. Teddies were for boys, I was told. I never understood why I had a doll in the first place, seeing that dolls are a surrogate for the Bellinda type babies as in the poem, which look very much like real babies at birth, except that you don't go to dolls' hospitals with real babies. I also only had one, as was customary in the old days. My mother did not think I would have children so on reflection letting me have a doll was like putting ideas into my head. She disliked having children and had told everyone she did not want any, but then it came to pass... She must have been disappointed that I did not do exactly what she wanted: no marriage, no family, no nothing(?) I supposed the nothingness is inevitable of you live long enough. I always thought three score years and ten were plenty of life to have, but in fact I'm grateful for still being here, despite the arthritis etc. 

The Secret

She had bright blue eyes in a hairless china head
Her patchwork body was dressed in lace
Her soulless self could not give love
But its childish mother gave it devotion

One day Bellinda fell onto the floor
and smashed her china head
And the child saw that the head was empty
and hid the doll away and did not cry

Where is your doll
Is she hiding away

But the child shook its head and would not tell

You will not be punished
Tell us where your doll went

But the child held its tongue

Winter came and the season of fires began
They found the doll its secret place
Washed the soot from its limbs
and bought a new head

That is not my doll
said the child
The hands and feet and clothes
are all that are left of her

Look at her new eyes and lips
And golden hair
She is more beautiful now than ever
And so she was to their material eye

I do not want her
said the child in despair

And wept for the loss of a faithful friend