My Latest Limb

When my sister and my aunt stopped over at our house on the way home from the wedding, they brought one of the best house gifts ever.

Mike found this doll’s leg on the beach near where she lives onLong Island, ran it through the wash with her clothes, and presented it to me just as it was when the load finished.

The doll it came from must have been high quality. The leg has more heft than most plastic doll limbs, and the shape of the thigh and knee and foot are unusually well articulated. Like all good doll limbs, the knee and toe knuckles are dimpled. Something broken inside rattles when you shake it.

Somewhere between separating from the rest of its body and washing up at my sister’s feet, it encountered some sort of oil slick. I love the mottled patina the tar has left in the plastic, which is perfectly smooth to the touch. The suggestion of dirt between the toes is sweet. Traces of salt have left a vague map on the calf.

I like thinking about what this leg might have been through – the surf it tumbled through, the sand that scraped it, the living things that nosed it, the oil it encountered.

Most of all, though, I love the fact that it found its way to my sister, who knows me well enough to have spotted something most people would probably mistake for trash, and recognized it as the prize it is.

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2 Responses to “My Latest Limb”

  1. Audrey Vernick Says:

    I think I will be forever haunted by this doll leg. There is something I cannot define in that photo, and in your words.

    I used to live a block from a north-shore Long Island beach, and have a fabulous collection of sea glass and ceramic tile that washed ashore. But I never once saw a doll part.

  2. Ruth Horowitz Says:

    Now you’ll start seeing them all the time, Audrey.

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