her mother’s favourite
doll–an antique, her princess gown
a confection of tulle and taffeta,
her long braid fashioned
from genuine human hair.
Like all the others, she
remained behind glass,
a treasured addition
to a never-ending collection
of surrogate sisters. Seen
but never heard, resplendent
in their patent shoes,
spotless frocks, rows
and rows of glassy-eyed
perfection, stiff
competition for a chubby flesh
and blood daughter fond
of mud puddles, prone
to grass stains
and skinned knees.

Once, when she was small,
her mother costumed her
like Rapunzel, fastened
a long, artificial switch to her
thin hair, brought her
and her more perfect twin
to a doll show.

The local newspaper snapped
up the moment. Next day
there they were: mother, doll,
child together on the front page
of Section B.

More than half a century later
a framed copy still hangs
on her wall and, to this day,
she’s unsure which one
of them inspired that look
of pride and awe beaming
from her mother’s face.

~ Ronnie R. Brown

Ottawa poet, Ronnie R. Brown, is the author of five collections of poetry, her fourth, States of Matter (Black Moss Press), was the winner of the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award. A sixth collection, Rocking on the Edge, is expected in 2010.

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