Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Paper Doll

by Ava Leavell Haymon


Afterwards, she looks

in the mirror. She sees

her own face, but no


background. No wall

behind her, no gesso white,

no painterly landscape,


nothing. She’d forgotten herself

in the accident. Or was it

an explosion? Maybe disease.


And why is there no neck?

She stands on tiptoe:

no shoulders either.


She is afraid

to look down.

Faint memory, is it


a smell? ginger? tobacco?

Could have been a taste. Questions

make her weary. Was she


alone? She’d wanted to kill

something. Was there

a child? Sound of paper tearing,


unmistakable. Paper dolls? Dolls.

An old habit, talking to herself

before washing her face


in the morning. Was there water?

She opens her mouth to say something.

The eyes blink. She changes


her mind about speaking

and looks in the face a long time

the way a teenager will


or a baby.

The eyes watch,

not very interested.


What on earth

had been so important?

Was there silence? a curse?


somebody else? Not

enough facts. Always,

always, more questions.


She knows one thing. Only

one thing. If she looks away,

the face is gone.