Excerpt from Refusal and the Dark-Skinned Doll by Jane O’Shields-Hayner

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The following piece appears in our Winter 2016 digital issue. The entire issue is available for immediate download.

IT TOOK EVERYTHING I HAD TO OPEN THAT GLASS AND STEEL DOOR, PULLING WITH ALL MY MIGHT, WHILE THE WHISTLING NORTH WIND FOUGHT ME.

I pushed the stroller with my free hand, guiding it with my foot, without disturbing its sleeping contents: my youngest baby girl, cozy in a cave of pink and yellow blankets. My three-year-old daughter worked her chilly fingers into my hand that held the stroller, while my mother shivered and raised her shoulders. “Burrrrrrr…” she said. “Every thang bad comes from up narth, even cold weathar!” At times my mother’s statements were like some puzzling Texas koan. Whatever I had been thinking was erased by the strangeness of her words.

I was in my early years of motherhood, with babies at hand and under foot. It was 1983 and my mother and I were out for our weekly shopping trip. Shopping was how we maintained a relationship. So far, it was a predictable afternoon. We pushed strollers and talked about clothing, weather, and cafeteria foods, and we coaxed the children to behave and to stay on the topsides of the tables.

Jane O'Shields HaynerJANE O’SHIELDS-HAYNER is a writer and visual artist living in Southern California. She writes poetry and nonfiction and exhibits her art. Jane has bachelor’s degrees in studio art and teaching and a master’s degree in occupational therapy. She has taught art and practiced occupational therapy throughout her life. Jane and her husband have two young children and two adult daughters. Her creative works are an expression of her spiritual journey and of her deep love for humanity and the natural world.