They call them Russian dolls
but there was a shop that sold them
by the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam,
not far from those ruby lit windows
displaying Dutch dolls in de Wallen,
both of which provided excitement
for wet tourists under rain coats
in the soaked summer months
terrified of traffic and tram tracks
and serial cyclists ringing their bells
like they were shooting guns.
The Russian dolls within dolls
within dolls were higher in price
than those locals offerings
you couldn’t bring home with you
after the money was handed over.
I used to see them, in their windows,
in the mornings- reading the paper
with their crispy toast and mint teas
in G-strings and little else.
I find it funny how undressing
reveals even less of the person
than being fully clothed.
I wonder if those Russian dolls
hold more truths in their multiple layers-
building up into a whole
instead of stripping down for a price.
All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly