Awake suddenly and afraid, I looked down from my
high window into the spinning prism of snow, past
the new flattened macadam to the white meadow below.

I watched the drifts cover the tall grass, where in
Summer, rabbits and whip-poor-wills hid from eager
slingshots and family-size plots following the surveyors’

black flags.  I’d been awakened by a sound: something
stuck, spinning its wheels. A truck, I could see now, as
it lunged suddenly out of the deep rut it had made trying

to downshift at the top of the meadow path leading to
the orphanage below. As the truck lurched free, I could see
its tail-gate shudder, gape, then a quick cascade of tumbling

shapes. Back-up lights, bright red blurs, vanishing.
Moon-lit, my school coat and scarf drawn on, I
went spinning down through the sleeping house:

feeling its familiar steady rebuke. Slipping out, ghostly
in blowing snow, I found them where they’d fallen.
Dolls. A scattered family, lying face-up, eyes staring

past me at the sky as their silly faces were slowly erased.
Kewpie-pouts, clumsy spit-curls. Raggedy-Ann dresses,
cheaply-made. As if a collection taken at the new church

nearby had paid a doll factory to spin off a poor version
of something loveable. Special delivery. Though now I
heard a chime. It must have been Christmas. It must have

been hours before the nuns led their small charges out to
salt the ice and shovel the hill where others sledded. They
honored the earth: I’d watched how their gardens grew

lush in summer, all the way to the iron gates.  I thought how
soon they would be gone, along with the living meadow.
So why have I kept close for years this dream of them, coming

upon the tossed dolls, face after unloved face, in the bright
new morning?  Holding them tight all the way home. Though
there was no home, of course:  I knew there never was one.

Copyright © 2015 by Carol Muske-Dukes. Originally published in the April 2015 issue of the Yale Review. Used with permission of the author.