Is it mother to mother
to mother or
daughter to daughter
to daughter?
Each quaint peasant
brightly painted and bulbous,
expectant for generations

down to the smallest nugget
offered up by the sacrifice
of those hollowed out halves.
No belly to pry open
with predictable delight,
she stands silent among her forebears.

I pick up this last little one
and see myself in her
as the end of our maternal line.
The dark wood knot
that shows through the paint,
a swirl of contrarian inclinations.

I didn’t intend to be selfish
just wary of the hardships
I saw in the women around me
who took grandkids as the final prize
as if commensurate with their efforts.

My mother never asked and I never offered
to explain why I chose no children.
Perhaps she feared it may have been
some fault of hers she didn’t want to hear.

How self-contained these dolls remain
as I piece them back together.
This last little one with her similar smile
has fended off the carver
who would have whittled one more of us.