By Mischelle Anthony
Nothing could break the silence
of that room: toys random on the sky-blue
yarny pile, Snoopy train, Strawberry
Shortcake fold-out garden patch,
abandoned View Master, and my go-
to, Stretch Armstrong. Remember him?
No Ken-style bump between his thighs.
Pull him off the chalky shelf,
shoved against the Little Golden
books your cousin Todd tore through
with Fisher Price picnic knives.
Poor Poky Little Puppy and
Saggy Baggy Elephant.
Don’t get distracted.
Fall to your knees, flip dear
Stretch upside down, and pull
as hard as your ten-year-old arms
can go. The day I heard a rip and
saw the grainy underneath the silly
putty surface, the blue-walled bedroom
and white flounced spreads, spiders,
even Mom’s crocheted poodle froze.
They needn’t have worried.
I knew what to do. Shut
the walk-in closet door, the breeze
your grandmother’s Estée Lauder
scent, clothes crackling on the rod
for years. Face the laundry
basket on your knees. Plunge
the muscled doll down
in—duck rubber, smashed
bear, little engine that could.
Then stir—leave one tanned arm out
waving. Don’t forget his orange
swimsuit. Let the swollen plastic
webbing shine its midnight
blue. Rehearse what you have
learned from every woman
in your life: Bury it.