“The Wedding Doll” by Nancy Beagle

Nancy Beagle


She boxed me—saving me, she said, for the wedding.
She shall be my centerpiece, stand next to the cake.
That was when she was twelve.
I was a birthday gift to a girl who loved dolls. A girl who had
dreams, pictured herself, apron-clad, in a sunny kitchen
fixing pot roast for a husband, four children.
It is now 65 years later, and I’m stuck up in the attic,
like a child’s cradle outgrown or a rocking horse
no longer needed. And I am still in the turquoise box
with magenta lettering proclaiming Madame Alexander.
We, the most cherished dolls of the era. This was
before Barbie, Cabbage Patch kids, and American Girl.
My box itself has begun to collapse, its corners broken,
its top dented from move after move. The wedding dress
I wear now is tainted—tea brown with age. The lace
delicate, ready to dissolve at the touch. My face, too, is
cracked, but my blue eyes are still open. She takes me
out now and then and witnesses time, acknowledges
that I never got that center spotlight—nor did she.
How do I feel having been boxed for decades? How does
she feel never having had a man to hold at night,
children to embrace? She, too, has been in a box. Hers
constructed of societal expectations. No less imprisoned
than I. Do I pity her? Not really. She had choices whereas
I had none. She could have, at any time, lifted her lid,
flown over the edge.

from Prompt Poem of the Month
March 2024


Prompt: Write a poem from the perspective of one of your childhood toys.

Note from the series editor, Katie Dozier: “The twirling between the doll and the speaker in Nancy’s poem invites us to get lost in the ruffles of regret. At once exploring our need to cherish and to be cherished, as well as to love and to be loved, the honesty in this poem unboxes a trove of emotion.”

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