Matryoshka Doll

September 1, 2008
By Andrea Garcia-Vargas, Dubin, OH

Staring at me with obsidian almonds
Under alabaster bedcovers
A peasant dress
Bedecked in cranberry florals
Head covering of the most
Verdant
Gleaming
Emerald
From the Ural Mountains

Your look of spring
Has an upturned incarnadine mouth
As the crowning glory

But under this robust woman,
I find a girl --
Slimmer
Smaller younger
Than the one you were inside

A feverish blush crawls over your cheeks
Capillaries like clusters of
Red stars

Another girl.
Oh, how you look at me
From behind a wet glaze!
Tell me, child, are you crying
Because your dress’s flowers are
Cracking
Like a fragile glass under a
Hammer?
Or are they evaporating
Like a forest under a
Hydrogen bomb?

Another girl.
My, how you’ve shrunk!
You are only a
Wet-nosed
Kulich-breathed
Toddler
Sitting among the tall wheat
Of the farm on which you live
It’s off to the gulag for you
Where you will work
And work every day
In honor of
The Fatherland.

Another girl.
No, not a girl.
An infant
Swaddled in a faded red flag
An arctic foot of bloody ice

The others girls are discarded
Broken eggshells

You can’t see your own reflection
Because your eyes are so tiny
Undefined and gaping holes
Dashes of carbon

They are remains of a former glory
Like the rubble of the Berlin Wall
In East Side Gallery

Was it a
Sickle
That sliced through your layers?

Oh, Matryoshka Doll,
Though you radiated
Freedom and Liberty
At first sight
You slowly peeled yourself away
And the rest of the world saw your
Scarlet core.

You’re but a
Tight-fisted
Bawling
Baby

Oh, Matryoshka Doll,
What has the
Russian Man of Steel
Done to you?


The author's comments:
This was the piece that I turned in for the Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize on the Kenyon Review Website. Although I didn't win, I am glad that I had the confidence to submit my poetry to the scrutiny of others. This poem was inspired by what I learned in World History about the misery in the USSR thanks to the corruption of Communist ideals. For those who don't know what a Matryoshka Doll is, it's a wooden hollow doll that carries another one inside . . . and another . . . and another. Some of the descriptions in the poem may be cryptic - but they're usually references to Communist symbols. And just a hint - "Stalin" means "Man of Steel."

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