For months she’ll clutch it
stitches undoing
collapsing in, soft 
parts wearing thin

smaller and smaller
her face her eyes
like black buttons sewn on

her white tuft thin
her mouth gone slack
drooling a smile now
a smile-grimace

above the limp baby’s 
pert plastic mouth

her weight the weight
settling low        lower
in the wheelchair

as if the atom-stuffing
were condensing
collapsing in

as if the cells were 
cowering in the face of...

as if she had become 
the well-loved doll
too well-loved

later she’ll be many weeks
in the bed before...

too feeble to sit up, to eat, 
hugging a teddy 
bear now, big soft 
teddy, her body growing 
concave around it

flesh and cloth, fleshcloth—
nub and gnarl.
Susan Kelly-DeWitt | Mudlark No. 38
Contents | Elegy