Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Marianne and Marguerite

My cousins
had a walkie-talkie doll each,
one called Marianne,
the other Marguerite,
made from brittle plastic
with shiny, synthetic hair
and ribbons.
With jointed knees and elbows
and on their backs
under their singlets,
a mysterious, round,
holey, voice box.
They had eyelashes,
blue eyes, round, rosy cheeks.
Two-feet high, they reached
our knees and were perfect

and beautiful. Marguerite
with her waist-long,
blonde, wavey hair, Marianne,
with her long, wavey, brunette
hair. Which was right,
being named after the characters
(fair-haired Margeurite,
deceived out of marriage
and true love
to the handsome, sailor William
by her dark-haired sister Marianne),
in the 'Green Dolphin Country'
serial played every night
on the wireless which I listened to,
peering among the smell
of warm electrics and tiny,
lighted bulbs in the dust-covered back
for the people I can hear in there.

We took the dolls for jerky,
stiff-legged walks,
which they could only do
by us working their arms,
and one step at a time
so they couldn't be hurried
in their pastel, nylon
frocks, puffed sleeves,
and stumpy, black,
Mary-Janes with white,
ankle socks, they
did whatever
we wanted them
to, closed their eyes in sleep,
called us, "Mama" when turned
upside-down. Anything,
at all, they were so
dumb and blank.

Kay McKenzie Cooke


Catherine said...

I remember reading that book, though I didn't know it was a radio serial. Love the slight twist in the last line of this one.

Agnes said...

I am smiling ear to ear Kay.

Tammy Brierly said...

Loving your poetry Kay!

Love You!

Tammy Brierly said...

Loving your poetry Kay!

Love You!

Anonymous said...

Great ending. And I love the way you've used the lineation to echo the jerkiness of the dolls' movements.

My family had two dolls of similar lineage: Christobel (who belonged to my mother) and Margaret Rose (who belonged to mum's sister). Margaret Rose always freaked me out a little – those staring eyes.

Kay Cooke said...

Catherine - Thanks - I LOVED that radio serial - read the book as an adlt and was disappointed ... other way round usually (films v book etc).

Agnes - :) Thanks.

Tammy - Thanks that's nice!

Jopre - Yes, those staring eyes! ...Have you ever seen the film 'Baby Jane'? (Bette Davis). I thought of that as I was writing the poem ... it was there as background, in a haunted sort of way (maybe I should write another poem about that!):)

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