a history of dolls
Destiny O. Birdsong

i’m on your shelf
except your shelf is your lap is
a metal railing i’m straddling
my thighs are plaster-coated
live wires
& your lap is my great uncle’s lap
& i am ten, & my mother
tells me she was molested
but she won’t say by whom

he holds me in place
by my belt loops
my mother makes him
a sandwich in the kitchen

later she explains
how he would tear open
loaves of bread
if he was hungry

i tell myself nothing terrible
has ever happened to me
today is today i just 
can’t tell you no

my lips are puckered
porcelain painted apart
my tongue a single
brush stroke of pink

your hanging mouth
huffs a glaze
your teeth/my thighs
gilded in sunlight’s kiln

a final firing
through the open

first appeared in harlequin creature as “the china doll speaks”

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