Sleeping with the Donkey

Matthew Thiele
1 min readJun 28, 2022


Photo by the author

We bought it before Charlotte was born,
A goofy stuffed gray toy dubbed “Donkey Man.”
We gave it to her before she could stand,
And she loved it very moderately.

A million more followed: Doggie Doggie,
Daddy Fox, Baby Fox, Dee the Deer, and
Yes, these all are really really real names
Of fuzzy, dead-eyed, inanimate toys.

The Donkey Man got set aside one day,
A tree lost in a little girl’s forest
Of fiberfill fluff and plastic sparkle.

And in a pile of other castaways
He stayed, until one melancholy day
When Charlotte, now a sister, cracked apart
Her brother’s yellow egg-shaped rattle toy.

The punishment? A trade of toy for toy:
One whole and prized for one cracked and scattered.

Charlotte had to choose a precious friend
To sacrifice for little brother’s loss,
And Donkey, long neglected, paid the price.

Her brother loved it for a day, and then
It disappeared into his reject pile.

So now I am sleeping with the donkey.
I could not let it sink away again
Into another lost pile, into some closet,
Alone, unhallowed, exiled to the shadows.



Matthew Thiele

Teacher. Satirist. Scholar. Published in Slackjaw, Points in Case, McSweeney’s, Ben Jonson Journal, and elsewhere. Definitely not a robot. Or an alien.