For Jennifer Maree, my daughter, on her birthday
It is as if Kylie can see again, thanks to Grandma’s
Deft restitution: buttoning an eye back in place once more.
She has brought to that rag doll the marvellous gift of sight.
Her blistered fingers now baste the socket, while Amy, almost four,
Watches. Who would have thought that she, this child,
Could impute any courage to that stuffed cotton body
And placid face. Amy knows how brave Kylie has been
To suffer the needle’s thrusts without a cry, so she
Cradles her, and croons, earning the love of her rag doll’s heart.
All this patchworking and seaming stirs her mother’s memory
of that other, larger doll, her parents’ gift from Italy,
Sebino Patatina with the bouffant hair who, years later, would also be
Dragged from our closed-up home one Christmas, then set upon
By ruffians, maddened by vaporous fumes strong enough
To drive a car. Vintage Patatina, so sadly maimed that day, became
Legless. Quite a pair: Kylie, almost losing an arm, her tough
Continental sister almost broken apart. Fortunately,
A grandma’s darning has relieved the rag doll’s plight,
First filling one space above the nose with a button. Laboriously
She now stitches away the other old wrong, and sets it right.
All power to those darning fingers and to the child’s dreaming mind,
Channeling imagined life into her soft downy toy! Down here, no longer apart,
Even her great-grandmother smiles at the absurd strangeness, that a mix of vision
And kindness could bring such magic to a rag doll’s heart.