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Sunday 13 November 2011

The Good and Bad Spirit

Everything happened around I was five
everything came to the boil
the house like a beehive
first I got ill, was hospitalised
then a new brother arrived.

Big disappointment,
me dreaming a sister -
not to pull hair, as some thought,
but play with her dolls.
(Back then a doll was taboo for a boy -
well, it was if you lived with your gran.)

Then when it had all settled down -
a year or two maybe -
I saw this mad doll. In a world of her own.
A whole Doll's Hospital window
all to herself. Rescued, she'd been,
from a fire, I think.
Her rib cage smashed. And hands and feet.
But I couldn't forget her face.

Older than me, Danny, my friend,
explained it: a leer. (He knew
about leers from his dad.)
How could she leer?
And why was she leering at me?
I saw it at night. And by day,
if I closed my eyes, it was there.

I must have talked about her
'till my friend went nuts.
Built an imaginary friend round her.
Perhaps he'd had enough.
That's maybe why he turned up
with a rival. A replacement doll.

Thrown out by his sister.
Smashed hands and feet. And broken cheek.
Not smashed quite in the way the first had been,
but near as I would get.
(Was he the doll's assailant?)

Alas, she did not leer
but worth the horse-drawn hearse and conker.
She almost measured up.
Enough for me to swap them gladly.

She'll leer, said Danny. Give her time.
She'll pass it on. All that
was done to her, she'll do to you.
She weaves thought webs
to trap her prey, he said. The strands
come from her eyes. (He'd heard
of women doing things like that to men.)

Her web began to form around my fear -
and yes, at times I caught a leer.
No way, though, would I part with her,
for fear wove webs of strong desire.

Yet after I had dropped dad's hammer on my toe,
come off my bicycle and grazed both hands,
and met with other bumps and bruises,
I did begin to wonder: was he right?

I never did discover
what sort of spirit was she.
Good or bad?
Or simply badly treated?
But for a year, maybe,
she had this hold on me.
Her damaged hands
more powerful than a wand could be.
Her spells more difficult to understand
than ancient abracadabra.

We hid her in the coal shed
so I could not well complain
that there were times her magic came out black.

But there were spells of purest white.
The night the lightning struck the weeping willow tree.
Two willow trees there were.
The one that was our camp.
And the one that was the enemy's.
Her face was in the lightning flash -
and so our rivals' camp was struck.

I am entering this poem for the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Friday Challenge.


The Weaver of Grass said...

Very eerie and compelling Dave.

Jenny Woolf said...

Great ideas here - tremendously creepy! Eek! Original, too, which is another thing I like about it.

Kerry O'Connor said...

This seems to develop into a psychological drama in the telling: the undertones of childhood - the conflicting desires of young boys to alternately possess and destroy. I can't help wondering how it would pan out in adulthood.

Mary said...

This gave me chills as I read it, Dave. Frightening to think about dolls (which seem so harmless) leering and perhaps casting spells.

Scarlet said...

What a creative take... this gave me chills too after reading about leering dolls.

I don't think I can look at one again for some time ~

Thanks for sharing this ~

Old Kitty said...

Beware the abused doll - such insidious creepiness too! Yikes! Take care

Helen said...

I found this totally delightful ~~ hiding her in the coal shed .. for shame.

Brian Miller said...

dolls are freaky anyway, but you really channeled the eeriness in this dave...yikes....

Susie Clevenger said...

Chilling...dolls can be creepy with their permanent stares and stiff arms reaching....Great work!

Windsmoke. said...

A very creepy doll, its a wonder it didn't come to life and start chasing people around with a carving knife :-).

Hannah Stephenson said...


I agree with Kerry--there's some very interesting ideas in here about growing up and how we see the world....

ArtistUnplugged said...

Ahhhh, kind of a "Chucky" theme but interesting. Doll faces can be really scarey, especially when they are broken, sitting there watching your every move. My daughter hates to see old dolls when we go to antique and junk stores.

sick heroine said...

what is the spell now?

Rose said...

Amazing, the things you write about!
Wonderful story!

Dave King said...

The Weaver of Grass
Glad you thought so - what I was hoping for!

Thank you for those comments. Good to hear.

Hi, good to have you visiting and thanks for the response. I have a dread feeling that we sometimes hear in the media how it has worked out.

What I find most chilling now - didn't then - is my friend's knowledge (of leering and of women who do things ilke that to men, etc). He was older than me, but not THAT much older.

Good to have your visit. Thanks very much for the comment.

Old Kitty
I will. We all should. Thanks.

How else could her magic become a little blacker than it was?

I agree. I have always found dolls to be creepy. It puzzles me that more people don't find them so - or maybe they do?

Hi! Welcome to my blog. thank you for stopping by to comment. Yes, I think you have put your finger on the source of their creepiness.

Another reason for keeping her in the coal shed, I suppose! Thanks.

Yes, they were certainly behind the inpulse to write this. Very pleasing to think that aspect has come through. Thanks.

Almost you set me off again with your"sitting there, watching your every move". Decidedly creepy. Thanks for an interesting comment.

sick heroine
Hi and a warm welcome to you. I've lost contact with her, I'm sorry to say.

It's an amazing world, when you start to think about it. Thanks.

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JeannetteLS said...

This reminds me of an episode of "The Twilight Zone" I believe. Some very old-doll, the kind with the sort of creepy face anyway, came alive at night and stabbed people with knives. I've never been able to look at antique dolls for long since.

And this poem is it's own episode. Your friend grabbed my heart more than the doll at first. Something was very wrong there, indeed. But then the dolls, the whole thing.

Your poetry is taking new spins of late. I cannot say I liked this. But it sure was effective and gave me chills, which makes it one fine poem, I would think!

Dave King said...

Security equipment
Thanks for the vote of confidence!

Well, well spotted! Yes, you are right. The worry lay with my friend rather than the doll. Things were definitely not right there. I was too young to understand it, but I think I sensed it and projected it on to the doll.