Nancy Crockett was eleven
when she got the typhoid --
tucked the grave's green blanket neatly around herself,
and went to sleep beneath her tombstone.
She had named her doll – who knows?
but as the doll drifted down through the family
she became Nancy 's namesake.
A hundred years later
my maiden aunt and I would unwrap Nancy
from her lime velvet winding cloth,
once a splendid 1920's tea gown,
smooth the dull shattered silk of her dress,
the dark human hair framing the insane little face –
for, if a doll could be mad, Nancy was raving.
Eleven inches from round head
to pointy shoes painted on her feet,
kid-glove hands with sewn flat fingers,
hard rag body with unbendable legs–
Nancy's black glass-bead eyes
glared malevolently at us over crackled wax cheeks –
which is why most of the time
she was confined to a drawer.
When she finally came to me,
I dressed her in yellow-sprigged navy calico
and put her on display.
But those wicked little eyes unnerved visitors,
who unanimously advised me to find her another home
(but not one volunteered to adopt her!)
Nancy made you think of effigies, poppets,
unpleasant, hooked-nosed old ladies
out to test the evening air on a fast broomstick
I returned her to another drawer,
whence she emerges on occasion
to glower unrepentantly
until I feel those jet eyes at my back and decide
it's time for her to retire once more from view.
And yet ... uncomfortable as she may be as a companion,
I am fond of her.
In the balance, Nancy is family.