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Rag doll in a City Line Five & Ten,
shelved so high, her features I could not see.
Then in my hand — blue eyes, blonde
braids, babushka —  and then her skirt raised,
revealed black stamped letters on her back thigh:
P  –  O –  L – A – N – D.  

“Like Grandpa, she’s a landsman
Grandma, I have to take her home!”
Too young to be told why not,
(years later, I’d think – was this tikkun olam?)
I sensed an odd reserve
I’d never seen before
and didn’t understand.  

Days later, the neighbor boy and girl
lured me, raised my skirt over my head,
Jew, you cannot play,
and held it there.
When they were through,
I turned, went inside,
said nothing to my grandma.

The doll, long gone, has resurfaced
in memory of late.   I wonder —
if she’s the reason I can love
what I was assumed to hate.

Lynne Shapiro’s poems have appeared in such journals as CV2 and Mslexia, and in anthologies, including Eating Her Wedding Dress, A Collection of Clothing Poems and Decomposition:  An Anthology of FungiInspired Poems.  Her “Drone Poem” won the first Remembrance Day for Lost Species Poetry Competition, Dublin.  She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.