Changed // A Musing on Dolls
by Carolyn Srygley-Moore

The cartoon sketches are squealing.
I am watching the shadows snake against the ceiling; hear your red absence walk
across the floor.
Early this morning I put my dolls away. You,
I do not miss you, you know it // I am glad
you have gone. The way you feel, when you cannot
shut your eyes, close your hands: that’s only a thread of a habit, now,
a memory of heroin never tasted.

In the harvest of the journey, I realized the axis
along which the snowflake wheels
inhabited, even held fast,
my very center // But should you break away
(you broke away) the waltz gladly ended, rudely ended.
I put my dolls away.

It had changed you, the distant War, but I could only see it
in the darkness of your walk; you spoke of
Nothing. As one does not write
to the lover one loves, writes rather to the incidental
one-night-stand. I too put my loss aside, began gulping in
the grasses & the rivers & the blue blue sky. I looked in the baggage
car, it was piled to the hilt with limbs of the wounded,
like bits of tinder, remembered tree. The treerings, set loose,
took flight…

There is a given hope, stupid stupid hope,
that the human body is only the corpus of a doll. It changes you, true obsession,
or war. War in deserts without water, sand caked in the lines of your hand.
Somebody above you in rank reads all your letters.
There are no secrets. There is no truth like youth & beauty, betrayed,
like the figures on the Grecian Urn, stepping out from the clay
casket in one piece, & speaking dialect. Then
laughing like the cartoon, little colored things, in motion // like
landmines in their implosion // children seeking silver blown to bits.

Shut up, you say: to your eyes, your hands.
Put away the damned, the damning dolls.
There is peace somewhere right now, somewhere, but
molecules clash in the bone-cup of my palm.

* * *

“Changed // A Musing on Dolls” (c) 2009 by Carolyn Srygley-Moore
all rights reserved, used with the poet’s permission

Carolyn Srygley-Moore is a long-ago, award-winning graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. She has been a Pushcart nominee, widely published in journals including Eclectica, Mimesis, Antioch, Stirring, & the antiwar anthology Cost of Freedom. Her digital chapbook Enough Light on the Dogwood is available at She lives in Upstate New York with her husband & daughter.