Doll – Elizabeth Barrett


The clairvoyant says she can see my daughter
on a train by a lake somewhere in Africa.
When I was seven I dreamed about that train.
The minister looked at me when he told us
not to nurse our gifts, that we must lay them
on the floor. The steel cross on the wall
glinted in the mean north light as I lowered
Rosebud slowly. I had chosen a less-loved doll
for the Mission in Africa but mum had told me:
Think again. God wants us to give what we love best.
I can see myself sitting still, head bowed over
my best doll, dressed in her lightest cotton frock
for a train ride in hot sun. I try to picture her
by the edge of a lake. What is she wearing? I say.

Elizabeth’s collections include A Dart of Green and Blue (Arc Publications, 2010), The Bat Detector (Wrecking Ball Press, 2007) and Walking on Tiptoe (Staple First Editions, 1998). She lives in Sheffield where she works as a university lecturer in education. 

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