Matryoshka by Oisin Donnellan

You Russian doll, you show girl.

I’d ask what you hide, but you’ve already told the world.

It’s craftsmanship and detailed, your repeated pattern,

your patent repetition.

If you want to be red, looking low and bent, then please,

reflect a tavern-lantern, like a big-eyed bulb.

Most of the eyes are white, angled and white.

I’d ask what colour you wish they were, but you’ve already turned to wood.


You Russian doll, you show girl.

Did your father dab on the pearls, stroke on the mean, green saffron?

They were nice touches, above the black pyramid, above the paintless block.

Once a tree, you were easy to understand.

I’d lie on you, and talk to you, and speak.

The forest would never know, because you lived in silence.

You let me live in happy, when you bore brown hardiness and were tipped with grassy cuticles.


You Matryoshka maiden, you show girl.

Had you a heart, I’d sing to it.

Will I sing to your young, the babes never to be born?

Inside you is the portrait of a woman, of a man who knew two tastes.

Maybe they’re better off,

The children.

You’ve spoken to me, and know me.

Why would you let anyone near me?

Is the truth too much to hear, or too much to say?


I know your childhood glint, your rosy water-colour beginning.

Fine tips, and a plush clump of thin hairs, pressing into your body and creating Matryoshka.

All applied is that which your Grandmother allows.

She knows how it was, like a lice-ridden sphere, spanning the days of the decades.

The decades of sarafan apothecary, pecking Stalin good morning and blowing him good night.


You Matryoshka doll, you show trial.

I’d ask what you hide, but you’ve already confessed and now,

there’s nothing left.

I broke you, with blade and blue bliss, and on you I left a kiss or two.

I broke you over the stairwell banister, and kicked you as you spun down and out.

I took your fiery clothes, and quelled the flame.

I killed the heat, and blew out the soul.

You took me back, and so I took you again.


It was craftsmanship, and detailed, your crocodile solid.

You were never flesh, nor your eyes ever orbs.

They were the corneas of a paranoid cuckoo bird, the facial hair my father said no to.


It wasn’t Matryoshka.

It wasn’t female.

It wasn’t real.