Mother made a doll,
a shrill squealer, two feet tall,
as if in nicotine withdrawal.
Now the doll and her sisters
high-step around the amphitheater.
In thickening suspense
they tiptoe along the bleachers.
As they centrifuge into the wall,
their mascara smudges, smears.
Their flat eyes dwindle small.
Maybe they are not from here.
Their stretched-out skins grow warm
like the human flesh they’re parroting.
Their yarn braids turn to keratin.
There’s nothing wrong with my parenting.
Every doll is heartbeat-less.
When Mother gave me my start,
she wadded my gaping chest
with fluffy polyester,
the same stuff music lovers
use to line subwoofers
to help them ape the bass pulsations
human hearts all suffer.
Jenna Lê (jennalewriting.com) authored Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2018; 1st ed. Anchor & Plume, 2016), which won Second Place in the Elgin Awards. Her poetry appears in AGNI Online, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, and West Branch.