Elizabeth Kirschner

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MY LIFE AS A DOLL by Elizabeth Kirschner October 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — swalzer @ 2:28 am


by Elizabeth Kirschner

from I. Cuckoo

Why do I love the winter garden so?

Is it because I hear the dirge

of dirt, elegy of vanquished blossoms?

Whatever emerges at season’s end

comes from a harrowing heaven: yesterday,

I believed I was a wooden woman

with a wooden heart the wolves

would tear apart. I jerked

about like a marionette with

tangled strings—slash of claws, teeth

sinking in to rip the flesh off

my wooden bones. When I was four

years old, my mother pummeled

the back of my head with a baseball bat.

I remember the pain. I remember

hitting the floor like a scarecrow

that was a heap of broken straw.

This is why I love the winter garden so:

energy of enigma. Icy blossoms.


from II. An Itty Bitty Ditty

Pretty, said Mom

on the night of the prom,

but she meant my shadow

of bone, of shroud,

a net with hooks.

What did I catch?

boy after boy

who were out to enjoy

sweets for the sweet,

but I was dog meat,

and my body knew the pain

of hammers and saws.

I was a wishbone

utterly broken by boys

who poked and prodded

until my mind boggled

with mish-mash dreams

snagged in my bug-a-boo soul.

I was a voodoo doll

my mother stuck pins in.

Pretty, she said as though

I were a ditty, an itty bitty

ditty not even God would pity.

Ditty gone silent. Ditty

gone numb as a thumb,

ho-hum, ho-hum.


from III. Tra-la-la

In the psych ward, I remained

a dust-baby. One breath

would blow me into the four corners

of the wind. I clutched

my baby picture and my son’s

favorite teddy bear. Lions

walked out of walls. Howler monkeys

screamed their cries of grief.

It was all wave and wavering.

I watched the river from my window—

it was the color of mother-of-pearl

and the snow died in it.

I fell to my knees while remembering

how much my mother loved

the dogwood blossoms:

each was a pink velvet boat.

I was ready to be castaway,

but in what dark harbor

would I be utterly human

which is to say, hardly begun?


from IV. O Healing go Deep

My demons came inside the house

to attack with their black and red

scaled reptilian wings, a nightmare

of chimera. They flew low, screeching,

and I screamed so loud my husband

could hear me on the street.

He found me in a ball, fed me

meds, but still demons lit upon me

full throttle. They pushed me into a shell

and I tumbled, head down in death’s canal.

Wordless, hell was wordless and I

was in it. Eyes closed tight, I was a great

ocean falling apart. My bones snared in

sticky webs, my flesh as well. Winter’s ghost

flew into me and my soul loosened

like an eye from its socket. Elizabeth,

Elizabeth, came my husband’s voice.

Was that my name? Elizabeth, Elizabeth.

Wing and wavelength, breath surrounding

a star tree. Elizabeth, Elizabeth.

A foster self slowly came round, woke

to the world and cried, bye-bye, bye-bye.


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