Anthropomorphism; Or Death Of A Doll - Poem by Patti Masterman
The first man who ever saw her
knew he had found something of import,
and soon after the other people began lining up to have a look
at the little face, half buried in mud and muck.
One grey eye visible, but the other eye,
along with almost half the face, buried; a mite's face,
where the battle scars of war had seen fit to place it.
Women wept soundlessly and men grimaced, as if in secret pain
passing by single-file, most of them wordless-
for, they thought, there were no words to fit this abomination.
One night, by the light of the moon
a single intrepid soul crept in and cut through all the chains,
the padlocks, went past the booths, and moving straight to where she was,
breathlessly began digging, moving aside the concrete and tile, the dirt,
until he had her- her little life-size doll face cupped in his hands, hard and rubbery: pure polyvinyl chloride, made to feel as soft as any human skin.
Then, barely daring to breathe at all, he thrust his hand in again,
deeper down into the soil, as if searching for something,
sometimes stopping and then beginning again-
almost as though afraid of actually finding what he was hunting for,
scrabbling with his fingernails-
And then at last he felt it, as he had known he must:
the hand of the real doll,
who had been buried at least half alive;
for her tiny fingers had curled around, still clutching
at the disintegrated rags of clothing her beloved doll had once worn.
He tore apart the rest of the trappings of the freak show,
now sitting still, now rocking and weeping, as the hours passed,
while tearing at his hair,
the little dessicated fingers held within his own,
crying and crying, as though his heart would break-
At man's apparent inhumanity, his lack of understanding-
man forever fastening his attention upon the symbol,
but never the substance, of anything.
But after a while, he reflected again,
that perhaps even this was too much too be borne,
maybe the fact was that man could not really handle much of truth, at all;
and that was why he was so myopic, tragically blinded by reality.
So he covered up the small hand again, scooping the dirt back over,
patting it back into place gently, and replacing the doll head,
leaving it half-buried as before, as well as he could recall it-
left intact again their strangely disembodied memorial to the cruelties,
the unbearable displacements of war.
And as he had promised himself,
he never told another, about his midnight discovery.
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