[the Writing of Kuypers][JanetKuypers.com][Bio][Poems][Prose]


My sister-in-law gave me a Midge doll set
when she married my brother. Midge came complete
with a wardrobe of designer floor-length dresses,
with sequins, and tuille, and three-quarter-length gloves.

But Midge, an older model, had short red hair
styled like a housewife, not like Barbie’s, long and
blond and flowing. And Midge could never sit in a chair
because her plastic legs were rigid and couldn’t bend.

For my sixth birthday I received a P.J. doll,
one of Barbie’s friends. P.J.’s hair was blonde, like
Barbie’s, but it was shorter. And here eyes were brown,
like mine. Not eyes to dream of. Eyes like mine.

When I finally got you, Barbie, I treated you like
some sort of goddess, you with your disproportionate
figure and perpetual smile. When you never eat,
you can stay thin. You can always be happy.

I took plastic kitchen shelf liner and caulking glue
and lined a shoebox so you could have a bath tub.
I taped a straw around the back of the tub so you
could have jets and extra bubbles when you soaked.

My father’s pool table was your lake; a second
shoe box served as your speed boat. You took all
your friends for boat rides along the green; Ken,
the Donny and Marie dolls, P.J., even Midge.

But I couldn’t be like you, I had to eat, and I could only
stand on my toes for so long when you stood like
a dancer perpetually. I couldn’t always smile. I was
only a little girl. And I was cursed with brown eyes.

What did you teach me? I pressed you next to Ken
under your pink and white bed sheets, but your plastic
bodies made a loud noise when you came together.
Your legs never intertwined. Your smile never changed.

And now, all grown up, I visit my parent’s house,
and they tell me I have boxes of toys that could be
thrown away. Kitchen accessories for the Barbie
camper, beaded dresses I made myself. And I think:

I could give these toys to my niece, so she could play,
so she could learn. And then I decide: no, these dolls,
these values, these memories, they belong sealed
in cardboard boxes, where only time can take its toll.

Copyright Janet Kuypers.
All rights reserved. No material
may be reprinted without express permission.

Blister and Burn, Janet Kuypers 2007 book the book The Average Guys Guide (to Feminism) the CD set Live at the Cafe (3 CD set)