We tried to comb out the glued ponytail of the first Barbie
and dress Ken.
The basic Ken came with a bathing suit, but you could buy a sleeper set:
brown and beige striped pajamas.
Ken, always problematic
with his plastic molded hair,
or worse, the glued on fuzz.
We borrowed our brothers’
GI Joe dolls as stand-ins,
dragged around our pink, plastic
wardrobe boxes from house to house
and spilled out the contents to start the play:
tiny high heels,
hats and gloves we struggled to put on hard hands
sunglasses that just wouldn’t stay.
We pulled the skimpy dresses
off little hangers
and inched them onto the dolls.
stared at the pages of the fashion booklet
and began our first real longing:
the After Five ensemble, or even
the Wedding dress, the Tuxedo.
Ah, girls who had the wedding dress, knew.
These were the pre-stars
of our own dating games:
Barbie’s stiff breasts, slight waist.
We hoped for the best,
acted out love in hard plastic
I remember my boys in two dollar sneakers:
flailing red feet, white souls,
running 86th Street to see if they worked right,
when Brooklyn was every place
with only one way home.
We hung out at the hospital for stitches,
dug out glass and pencil point, the Christmas flu.
My daughter came in breath-hold purple, there
wrapped in the blanket my mother made for me.
Four of us on the D train to Brighton,
a bag full of bologna and cheese.
No real end in mind. Just
a half-baked admission of shoes outgrown.
Still, like the shadow of a sundial—
but the next thing you know, day's gone.
I cried at that first graduation.
Just turned and saw him,
knew we made it,
knew I had been scared.
My daughter stands eye level now.
She's exactly like me. She's not at all like me.
21 Questions for Minnie Mouse
What's your maiden name, was the marriage prearranged,
did you live together first?
Where do you buy your shoes and do you
really choose to wear that color clash, polka-dot, hit and miss–
ever make Blackwell's list?
Does Mickey's voice annoy, with his, Hi, girls and boys;
does he have a real voice? Does he kiss you?
Do you think cartoon is art,
are you art?
as some say—
a postwar Betty,
sexless and breastless
like an after-thought,
Have you ever said anything not written by
a committee, or clean enough for the baby,
like a lie?
Like something your own?
Do you dream,
take off that stupid petticoat
and hair-bow and breathe,
in a place where the
spotlight's on you, Minnie,
and it's your show?