Paper Dolls

Paper Dolls
Iris Madelyn

My mother cuts out patterns
for dresses
first birthdays
cotillions
weddings

She fits me into hats
that don’t stop the rain
tying ribbons like nooses
and boots that get stuck in the mud

I just want to be naked
on the page
palms full of music
poems in my belly
floating over the earth
like an origami bird

But I’m told
paper dolls can’t fly
bound up in folded corners
so I stand in line
number seven in a crew of
thirteen cousins waiting

Girls—all we ever have are girls.
And the patterns cut out chromosomes

and expectations
while I stick fake tattoos on my shoulder
and the cousins hang
out on a city sidewalk
waiting for boys and names
and a place on the page.

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