I am the girl who burned her doll,
who gave her father the doll to burn ‘
the bride doll I had been given
at six, as a Christmas gift,
by the same great uncle who once introduced me
at my blind second cousin’s wedding
to a man who winced, A future Miss
America, I’m sure ‘ while I stood there, sweating
in a prickly flowered dress,
ugly, wanting to cry.
I loved the uncle but I wanted that doll to burn
because I loved my father best
and the doll was a lie.
I hated her white gown stitched with pearls,
her blinking, mocking blue glass eyes
that closed and opened, opened and closed
when I stood her up,
when I laid her down.
Her stiff, hinged body was not like mine,
which was wild and brown,
and there was no groom ‘
who smiled and smiled,
even when I flung her to the ground,
even when I struck her, naked, against
the pink walls of my room.
I was not sorry, then,
I would never be sorry ‘
not even when I was a bride, myself,
and swung down the aisle on my father’s arm
toward a marriage that wouldn’t last
in a heavy dress that was cut to fit,
a satin dress I didn’t want,
but that my mother insisted upon ‘
Who gives this woman? ‘ wondering, Who takes
the witchy child?
And that day, my father was cleaning the basement;
he’d built a fire in the black can
in the back of our backyard,
and I was seven, I wanted to help,
so I offered him the doll.
I remember he looked at me, once, hard,
asked, Are you sure?
I nodded my head.
Father, this was our deepest confession of love.
I didn’t watch the plastic body melt
to soft flesh in the flames ‘
I watched you move from the house to the fire.
I would have given you anything.