I remember when I was small,
and blonde and quiet and all the other things I forgot how to be,
I would wrap my arms around a baby doll,
hug her to my chest and whisper in her plastic ear, “I love you, Maddie.”
I would chew on her cloth fingers and draw on her head,
drag her through the house by the tails of her nightgown,
and share warmth with her cotton-batting body as we laid in bed.
I taught her to swim so she wouldn’t drown.
I left her behind as I got older,
resting in a shoebox at the top of my closet,
the memories of our adventures growing hazier.
Like a receipt left crumpled in a winter pocket,
run through the washing machine — the dryer —
and found six months later, on the first cold day.
A well-worn, illegible reminder
of the last time you went out to play.