Once upon a time a little doll
Encountered demons in the woods near home;
One took the guise of a well-bred traveler,
Smiling and chatting as he trailed her here
And there, at last jumping right into her mouth
By cunning sleight, so he could taste her soul.

At first the demon could not find the soul,
And he was roiling-wroth against the doll,
Sending her vomit, scalding her small mouth
With curses; Mama turned her out from home,
And Papa yodeled that she couldn’t bunk here—
She’d take her thwacks and be a traveler.

How cruel to make a child a traveler,
A ditch her nest! The dark night of her soul
Let fall a single star; the demon could hear
It crackle, plunging like the tears the doll
Had shed when she looked back at Home Sweet Home.
Wrinkles were rock around her papa’s mouth.

The demon snatched the starlight in his mouth—
Then grief was in him like the traveler
They call the Wandering Jew, who has no home
And cannot die. The fiery drop of soul
Explored his throat and gut; meanwhile the doll
Kept dreaming that some girl would beg, “Stop here!”

Nobody did. The demon could still hear
Her words; in pools he must have glimpsed her mouth
Bewailing fate, although it seemed the doll
Was rubbish to him now, the traveler
Less than the tiny, prisoned flame of soul
That made his mazy heart a hearth and home.

A demon’s heart is a queer sort of home …
Yet the star burned as brightly there as here
Or any place, and had not changed from soul.
At times it whisked up to the demon’s mouth.
Perhaps light sought to reach the traveler,
And knew when demon nested in the doll.

When home was starlight singing in her mouth,
All powers burned to hear the traveler
And marveled soul was nested in a doll.