“Come here, Doll”

Photo by Margaret Bednar

Photo by Margaret Bednar of doll house rooms at Art Institute of Chicago

Come here, Doll

He looked down at his large hands,
the thumbs, to her,
like hammers;
then up again, slyly shy,
as if he peeked out from under
his own forehead.

Winked, eyes bright as the crinkle of cellophane
off a Dutch Master,
spreading out his arms,
come here, doll.

She went over to him–what else?
He pulled her into the spread
between his legs.

She smelled, from there, his aftershave mixed
with cigar
and the hard bristle
of his face, muscle,
the heat like another biceped limb
beneath the fold of clothes, holding her
in place.

She did not quite know
what to do in that place,
so tried to hold herself against
his holding, to hold herself in, to make herself
just as small as she could get,
to not let herself
touch anything.

A draft poem of sorts for the prompt of Margaret Bednar on Real Toads, featuring doll house rooms from the Art Institute of Chicago.  The photograph of one of the doll rooms is by Margaret, a wonderful photographer.  The prompt calls for a poem about place–I got focused on the doll aspect, but I think the poem is also about place, in a way.

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38 Comments on ““Come here, Doll””

  1. lolamouse Says:

    This is rather disturbing but very effective. The repetition works very well. I felt like I was in the place you write about.

  2. A terrifying place, but a place nonetheless, a place too many people have been forced to occupy. You’ve caught the fear and lust perfectly.

  3. Trying to keep safe in the only way she knew. Seems all the more ominous placed in this homey room.

  4. Susan Chast Says:

    I really feel this poem. Yes, it is about place. The body is a place and so is the space between two bodies when it is too close and not of ones choosing, and I feel the don’t touch me of this photo but not the smells, the amazing fingers of this poem. Wow.

  5. The is a tension between the seeming willingness of the girl – the attraction to the man – and her need to pull away from him at the end. I’m not sure how to interpret this relationship, but I guess it’s true that each union of man and woman has many facets.

  6. I, too, felt it was about a place, funny enough. I sense a conflict running through the poem. Liked it.:-)

    Greetings from London.

  7. Kim Nelson Says:

    Wow. This powerfully written piece touched a chord, made me uncomfortable. I had a pedophile grandfather. Brought the memories right back.

  8. Powerfully written. I especially resonated with the inner withholding the child did to try to “not touch anything”. “The world is not a safe place for girl children.”

  9. Rachelle Smith Stokes Says:

    Okay, so glad I am not the only one who was disturbed. Which means you did your job! I agree above with what Susan said, the body is a place. It most certainly is. Amazing how a poem can turn itself on you. Finding a direction you had no intention of going. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  10. Mama Zen Says:

    Oh, this is fine writing! Chilling, disturbing, but fine.

  11. I enjoyed what you did with this…and I remember those doll houses at the Art Institute! That is one of my favorite places to visit. Makes me want to book a trip there now! I set my second novel in Chicago and had the male protagonists girlfriend be a graduate of the AI!

  12. hedgewitch Says:

    The poem is a great contrast to the picture, which seems both reassuring solid and extremely sure of itself as an interior, whereas the ‘she’ is almost lost in circumstance and propinquity, ambiguous and floaty in relationship. I like it. The language is really choice, and the feelings so amorphous and contradictory, yet very real, I think, as real as the heavy, prosperous, almost aggressive textures of that mission-style furniture.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      The poem IS a great contrast to the picture, as I confess to never having really been to Chicago–just driven through–and I was really just thinking of the idea of dolls and doll house and not so much the specific pics. It may be that the one of the interior that was all white and fancier would have been better, but it seemed too fancy somehow. I was going to modify the pic as you did, but didn’t really think I could make it really correspond. The basic sentences are actually from a novel manuscript, that popped to mind and I modified them and reshaped, but it really is part of a prose piece. Another one very much in progress as trying to make it all fit into a few words was a little difficult–I can’t tell if too obvious, too ambiguous–agh! Thanks! k.

  13. My oh my oh my. I do so hope that she succeeds! For me the room is quite male. This is so very good – your poem.

  14. brian miller Says:

    it can be quite intimidating as a kid…it made me think of my grandfather actually…and on the surface he was a really gruff man but could be so protective and warm in the right circumstance…i def tried not to touch anything to disturb the moments when they were that way…

  15. oh, I felt it even before the legs. I knew the language. Viseral, dark, haunting. Well done.

  16. Nothing personal dear, I felt detached and grasping ~ i’m often a dunce ~sorry 😦

  17. grapeling Says:

    you pulled the cord taut with this one, K.

  18. Grace Says:

    Terrific share K ~ Love the tension, repetition of Come here Doll, and finally the last verse, she is holding her body in, to make it as small as she can get ~ Theme is too dark for me but lovely writing as usual ~

  19. Debi Swim Says:

    The poem is effective, though the content makes me sad and angry for all the poor little girls (and sometimes boys).

  20. This is frightening in its truth…so brilliantly written!

  21. Steve King Says:

    This is a scary piece…wonderfully developed by the use of such close personal details. I can’t help but feel the contrast and tension between the pictured room and the scene you play out. The effect is heightened. Very fine writing (and idea).

  22. margaret Says:

    This so reminds me of a time when older frontier men really did have “child brides”… young girls maybe just shy of 14, 15… Life was hard, expectations, circumstances, were so different – hard for us to understand. I don’t find malice in the man’s demeanor, in fact just the opposite. That’s why, IMO, the girl’s anxiety is puzzling – but if looked at in the way I mentioned, I think it is excellent!

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Margaret. It isn’t really intended to take a strong stance one way or the other; but just to describe a situation. I would love to go to the museum that you went to! k.

  23. Poet Laundry Says:

    “tried to hold herself against
    his holding, to hold herself in, to make herself
    just as small as she could get” Wow, I think this is so perfect a description psychologically K. Excellently done.

  24. Ella Says:

    Haunting and trying to be small-really reminds me of being around people who disturb us~ Powerful write-wow

  25. Oooh, dark and twisty, this one brought back memories for me. Glad you are able to write about these “types” in a manner that is not graphic – sometimes I come down too hard on the other side. Really, really good writing here. Sets the “dollhouse” on its end, for sure. Amy

  26. Dick Jones Says:

    The more powerful and disturbing for its plain language and undramatic delivery. The sense of protective self-holding in the repetition of the words ‘hold’ and ‘holding’ at the end is in subtle but devastating contrast with the embrace that is the poem’s theme. Enormously effective.

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