Our March discussion will focus on Denise Duhamel's "The Putting Away of Dolls" from her collection The Woman With Two Vaginas: Poetry based on Eskimo mythology. (The entire collection, which won the 1994 Salmon Run Poetry Prize and was nominated for an American Library Association award, is available online through the Contemporary American Poetry Archive.)
The Putting Away of Dolls
This is what they called the day
her first blood came, the day she was too old
for her long slender doll made of reindeer bone.
It had taken a long time for her to learn
how to sew seal intestines without tearing them,
how to guide the ulu
so no part of an animal's hide was wasted.
She'd given her bone doll a wolverine ruff
because breath would not freeze
on that kind of fur. Though her father
carved her a doll with no arms,
she'd made parka sleeves from the seamless skin
of a ground squirrel's front legs.
She'd crimped the doll's moccasins with her teeth,
double checked each stitch to make sure
no wind or ice could pass through it.
An ill-sewn garment could mean death.
An ill-made marriage could mean unhappiness.
Her dolls' outfits were perfect as her mother
packed them away. The sticky blood,
slow and strange between her legs. She grew
dizzy as her family began to talk
of husbands and babies. She was an animal
strung upside-down, drained before drying.
Her hands never to touch skins that small again.
(Reprinted with permission from the author.)
Spend some quality time with the poem. Read it again and again. Make sure you read it out loud at least once. Slowly. Then share your thoughts, observations, questions and impressions in the comments section of this post.
Upcoming: Next week, we will post a prompt related to the poem!