Specifically, ours. I wrote this a long while ago and wanted to find the perfect time to post it, as it’s very personal to both Joe and myself. I think now, when we’re both still aching from the sudden loss of the other, is a good time.
I hope it uplifts you, honey.
In Which She Addresses the Boy at the Other End of the Paper Doll Chain
One day a child named God
Gathered every fibre they could find
Every shred of paper
Every scrap of fabric
Every slip of flimsy, pretty something
Fastened them all together
Carved a billion bodies from them with safety scissors
And then with an ingenuous grin and a clumsy flourish
Flung them wide
From one end of their bedroom—
With its fluffy carpet underfoot
And its bouncy bed with the springy, overstuffed mattress
And its primary-colour paintjob—
To the other.
And here we’ve hung ever since.
But surely you know all this
For you were there too;
But it has been an awfully long time since
And I’ve heard down the paper grapevine that your memory
Is not as sharp as the edges of our bodies
And I remember that day as clear as cellophane, you know.
I must confess,
That when that child swung their baby-fat arms up and out
To toss us to the corners of the walls
I saw you:
The only other doll
Without a second hand to hold
For yours was destined to be pinned through
Cold and useless
(And yet the most useful thing in the world)
And of course in that moment I knew you were special
And of course in that second I knew you were unique
And of course
In that instant
I knew you’d be lonely as I was cut out to be.
But it was only when,
For the merest fraction of a second,
In a flurry of giftwrap and velvet and papyrus
Your face peeked through the gap in two
And we locked eyes
That I knew for certain I loved you.
And as the time has passed
I have closely watched the way
The fingers of your barren hand
Clench and curl as if they are convulsing
From the loss they feel
From the phantom pains of a birthright they never received
From the longing
To have a life and a warmth to fill that empty palm—
So I am fairly certain
The feeling is mutual.
Myself I am made
From scraps of silk
And an old and textured journal page
Have literally sunken into me
Seeped their ink into the backs of my knees
The crook of my neck
The cruxes of my pale little elbows
And made me centuries wiser than by all rights I ought to be.
I haven’t the faintest
What slip of pretty, flimsy something
You are made from
I like to think it’s a frank and forthright bookpage
Or else some whimsical piece of sheet music
For you have always seemed to me
The sort of person with something to say
When a summer wind whips through the window
And sends us all aflutter
I’ve always thought your rustling
And how often I do fantasize
About letting myself get caught
In that warm and joyous zephyr
About swirling out of sight
About living like a leaf in trees
Where the warm, rough bark can be my solid ground
And Chinese lanterns all my harvest moons.
But the wind cuts right though
My tissue-paper dress;
My wafer-thin limbs shiver in the chill
And I figure
If you were to come with me
I would stand more of a chance against the cold.
For I have heard you are quite resilient
And also quite warm.
I think they mean your body
But I know it’s in your soul.
And maybe my sense of humour is just twisted
But I find it side-stitchingly funny
That even though I am the farthest from you
I still see you better than the rest:
Everybody has always thought you hard as cardstock
But I have seen your body
In ricepaper lines
With all your delicate veins and secrets
Just barely hidden under lucent sheets.
And for some reason that child took the care
To draw my eyes on beautiful and dark and sharp as the nib
Of the pen that they drew them with
So to me the message scrawled across your face
Across the room
Is plain as day:
“I don’t want to be here, either.”
So come on.
Let’s escape from it all.
Give the responsibility of holding up the world
To some other eager pair;
Cut ourselves free
And float all the way down to Earth
Pick ourselves up on pulpy, printed legs
Meet in the middle of that fluffy carpet
And finally say hello.
Did you know, your lips don’t taste of fibres.
They taste of freedom.
We can pack ourselves crêpe paper for lunch
Grab a roll of tape to wrap around our wrists
For windy days
And then soft as a whisper
Slip through the crack in the door
Never to be seen here again.
I’ll use a drinks umbrella like a parasol
And wear confetti flowers in my hair;
You can read the cracked and ancient words
Printed on the pieces of me I can’t quite reach
And tell me what they say.
We’ll live in an origami house
Delicate and slight
Wafting to and fro on a string in the breeze
Bright like a jewel
So carefully composed
You’re almost scared to touch it;
Where our conversations will become pretty patterns on the walls
Where our laughter will set the whole foundation aflutter
And where I can fold us cranes as pets
And the secrets that we breathe into them
Will enable them
With love and love and love,