The assignment in my poetry group is to write a lament for a childhood toy. I am sure this is a covert way of having us lament a lost childhood, or a lost innocence. Francie is the only toy I remember, although there were, no doubt, others.
I did not know until I searched this very day that Francie dolls are supposed to be "Barbie's cousin." I did not know she came with clothes or accessories. For all I knew I had the only one ever made.
I had the very doll pictured ... she was made in l965 the year I got my Francie.
She came to me from the bottom of the brown paper LOBLAWS bag
after lettuce and eggs and three loaves of discount day old bread
My mother, smiling, said she and Judy thought I'd like her. Intently
I lean on the counter with my elbows and turn her over in my hands.
Not quite a Barbie, her limbs move stiffly and her feet have holes in them
a fat brown pony tail coiled with string will be easy to untie.
Draped in high fashion Kleenex chic belted with twist ties and tape pieces
she speaks of curious sights and says 'wanna go?' and my eyes shine
Holding hands she pulls me out of the stifling yellowed blue bedroom
to meet queens whose castles have turrets and not a few handsome princes.
Her wardrobe expands, each outfit more elaborate or useful than the last
tin foil shoes shining metallic and cotton ball hats with sequins or feathers.
On mute afternoons I croon on stage before adoring mobs while she dances and
Saturdays we go to the zoo or feed dinner to African orphans
She does not grow while I grow, does not fuss when dust speckles settle on her hair
does not complain to me on those few remaining outings we enjoy.
Lovely, I present her to little Kathy when she turns nine - alongside her many gifts.
I find her at the end of the summer
face down in a fetid pool
one arm missing.