Playthings | Christine Byrne
This is the sequence of events: Neighborgirl burying toydolls
First heads, then their bodies, in a garden which dissects our houses.
And she says I’m Angela
And This is my brother
Daniel, I remember
I think that’s how
Digesting summer heat. Their mother Margaret, keeping things warm on the stove.
How Angela: first eight then eleven then twelve
Had a biting problem
and would bring me presents in the garden asking
This is the sequence of events: Angela doesn’t come home.
No, she stepped into the back of a 1997 Toyota Corolla Sudan
with blue hubcaps
No I don’t remember what the men looked like
one of them
was calling her Angie
& that’s what I tried to explain to the police at thirteen no
the wheels weren’t blue it was the insides of the wheels while someone said
traumatized or was it
Sequence: Margaret became greedy, dressing me in clothes she would’ve bought for her
own daughter, how Daniel at the time was fifteen and then sixteen and I was thirteen,
always catching up
This is the sequence of events: your lily sheets are telling on you Angela
And I know he watched me get changed in your downstairs bathroom,
so I did it all slowly, particularly, folding on the toilet lid
Sequence: The adoration connotations are as follows: Wheat Paste, Madcap, Crackerjack
Daniel and I
observing mailtrucks. Observing babies in plastic boxes
don’t like light.
And sequence: He leaves for Ohio, seventeen, still too skinny
Sequence: you were there that night what do you mean you can’t remember?
Sequence: Margaret bowing to I’ve lost them both!
Margaret, who saved
babyteeth and original haircuts in spice jars in the bathroom vanity.
You can call me mom too
Sequence: My own mother in her
Sequence: no one closed the windows and it rained all over her dresser until Margaret ran in
Sequence: I hope
The green shutter shifting by your bedroom window as I drive by your childhood
Yes, I think, how I remember it—
Yellow schoolbusses. Track shoes I stole money from Lynna Bray to pay for. How she knew but never said anything, and we’d talk without looking at each other, bending in odd ways while undressing in the locker-room
Telling Christian I was still a virgin
That this is what catching up feels like
For sale signs. Margaret in her driveway. Margaret in the garden. My own
sitting in her bed while she brushed my hair you’re nobody’s plaything
Like my sister, sequence, Angela—
There was a man in the back, no the windows were dark I saw him when the door
opened, maybe 30, I don’t know, kind of blonde kind of the color of my own hair, no
she smiled shhh with her finger on her mouth No, she just walked right in.
Christine Byrne is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut. She was born and raised in Norwalk, Connecticut and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois, where she teaches and writes.