In Which I am a Nesting Doll

Nicole Mason

I imagine that I am a Matryoshka doll and as you twist open the seam of my first belly, all you can see are the hundreds of sparrows I’ve swallowed. They are still alive and it’s a chaos of tiny heads and misgivings. I never wanted to eat so many, but they are such small birds. Disgusted at yourself for your erection, you lift out another doll, a smaller me. You are shakier with this one; you hadn’t expected sparrows so soon. You hold me. My babushka is in constant flux: now it’s red, now last night, now rabies depending on the light and the perspective. We stare at each other for less than four minutes, but I’m impatient for this part, this is where it gets good, so I say well, get on with it, already! You’re a gentleman and you split me in two nonetheless. There I am, my halves laid open and obscene for you to analyze, to consider. You peer into me. I am excited and I point to my insides and I shout at you with my little painted mouth: Do you see this? Check this shit out! Buried under old episodes of I Dream of Jeannie and Petticoat Junction, you find the letter I wrote to myself when I was 15. You read it out loud and do all the voices. When you get to the part about clay and the Top Five Best Ways To Die, you finally break character. You birth the third doll out of my words as one would a puppy, patiently licking clean all of my typos. This doll has some yet-to-be-determined heft; you balance me in your palm, weighing me. I can’t blink with these fixed, inhuman eyes, so you must think that I see everything. You crack me open like an egg. Dark matter spills out, staining the front of your slacks (not pants) and I point out that it’s only by some horrible mistake in our universe that nothing can ever be un-broke. You have no idea what this shit is, no one does. Now, it’s all over you and, frankly, that’s a little upsetting. You shake out the rest anyway and the last little Matryoshka, the size of a peanut, falls to your feet. There are words written on my pinafore, but they’re so small you’ll never be able to make them out. You ask me what it says, but I can’t see that it’s only a list a prepositions, all in relation to you.


Nicole Mason received her MA in Literature from Northern Michigan University and is currently an MFA candidate in Poetry at Western Michigan University. She is the poetry editor at Third Coast Magazine and lives in Kalamazoo. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Roanoke Review, Midwestern Gothic, Atticus Review, and Slipstream.