We walked in that old thrift shop musty,
dingy light seeping around stacked shag carpets
and formica tables piled high with bakelight plates.
It smelled of dried rain and wet mildew.
It beckoned us luridly, promising hidden treasures
squirreled away in dank depths and skinny aisles
piled high and tippling.
Your eyes glinted with purpose and glee
like Sherlock Holmes on the case,
so I resigned myself, Watson-like,
to the chase and followed
your dashing red boiled wool coat
and white fuzzy stocking cap deeper in
to the belly of this lazing laughing thrift whore—err—store.
And sure enough your squeak of discovery
morphed into a squeal of delight
and you held up your find like Aphrodite
holding up her heart to Adonis’ ruby thirsty gorgeous lips,
and you possessed, moved demi detourné
and grinned gleeful in the tight aisle
when changement you spun to hand me
your thrifty trove plunder…wait…
Russian nesting doll?
“Oh Charissa!!” You spoke softly
but your sotto voce rang in my heart booming
cus you know that place big and special
that only you live in and call my Lady’s Chamber…
“It’s soo you!” You cooed and fussed in total committed certainty
that this odd intricacy was me.
It was wood, golden glossy with painted folksy face
…and it was male?? Wait. Whaaaat is…?
You saw me, my confusion in this
the only time in my living memory
you had paid this shell more than
the passing glance and haughty sniff
we all share at how uncooperative
our bodies can be, and your smile
more tender than all the leaves of every Beech and Birch under the moon.
“Oh Sweetie, let me tell you…these dolls…you…well,
there is a history here, right?
Tradition carves these, dolls within the dolls within the dolls
until the core and look! Just open it up, ‘kay?”
My eyes were blurry and my nose felt raw
rubbed in rough coarse handkerchief flesh
oversized and clumsy and inside my lil toes
throbbed hard in hurt stomped ache
from what you had not done ever
and yet had brandished that day
in triumphant tinkling delight…
but behind your insistent excitement
I saw awareness, I saw your pleading strong
ask of my trusting heart open to you
there and waiting…
So I took it, I felt
its smooth warm grain
inviting and fairly singing
of mystery and glad discovery
and with a last foreboding look
at your face illumined I twisted it open
to find the waiting center was another doll like the first
and painted gaily and it was female…
and when I looked inquiring
if I should open it too,
your fierce nod was
in time to the trembling
of my hands as meaning
washed me and when
I twisted it open
the skritch of the wood turning
sang together with your
smothered cry of joy in me…
..and I saw the small girl I am
but never was and inside
the baby whole and of one piece…
“See?? I told you, Charissa! It’s SOO you!”
And with that, you pushed past me
like winds pushing past the windmills
and me turning in your wake
to follow you to the place
of purchase and presentation.
I sit and stare at those dolls…
I remember that day when you were here
and our short time was forever and our poor spouses weary
from our fevered pursuits so fueled by that find
and so eager for our next parable-mystery tracked out…
and all the days since, and
who knew that so many dolls
could fit in so many days?
So many you’s in me and me’s in you
as we walked us the streets of life together
and laughed our way deeper inside
from me to you and back to me,
and us, nested there within.