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.