The World

By Hannah Marshall

Featured Image: Randy Gals by Ellery Pollard

The world is a broken thing, a paper doll from my grandmother’s childhood. On the farm in Wisconsin, she cut  

the world carefully from a magazine. On the back of

the world was a recipe for drop biscuits. Men in New York City streets planned

the world for this girl to cut into shape,

this world which she dressed up in a red dress, in a white apron and little blue pumps,

this world which is brittle now to crumbling, and torn.

The world was designed to be temporary.

The world was made of dead trees and smeary ink. My daughter sets

the world and its old clothes in a line across whitish carpet. She props

the world against bent tin furniture the size of my thumb.

The world is a broken thing, and so she handles it carefully.

The world opens from its paper breast. We try to become what

this world has made us to be. We carry

the world with us in the bottom of a purse, scribble notes about

the world and carry them tucked up our sleeves, like used tissues.


Hannah Marshall lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she works at the public library and as the poetry editor for South 85 Journal. Marshall’s poem “This Is a Love Poem to Trees” appears in The Best American Poetry 2021. Her poems have also been published in Poetry Daily, The South Carolina Review, The American Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. She received her MFA in creative writing from Converse College.

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