After a few nomadic years, we settled
into a split-level house nestled in a cul-de-sac
away from bustling boroughs, but never
far from wraiths of sprawling estates & train
tracks that cleaved privilege & affluence
from our constant state of deprivation.
A latchkey kid—I often stole
away to the basement chock full of vinyl
bags of worn clothes & box skyscrapers
reeking mothballs—my mother an expert
magpie of all things already discarded. Built-in
bar next to the boiler, deserted & unused,
became Barbie’s mansion: multi-storied
cross-sections of elaborate chambers rivaling
any store-bought imitations. Unlike classmates
who had entire Mattel playrooms filled
with glittery toys & miniature Pepto pink
Corvettes, my Barbie only owned one other
casual outfit—so I made sure Ken engaged
in easy conversation, half-lying
on a couch made from fabric swatches,
mimicking what I saw on The Young & the Restless.
In the throat of this hidden cave, I inhabited
whiteness without retribution. No longer
ching-chong China girl—I, a ravishing blonde
trophy with her perfect proportions. Pipedream:
I wondered what it would be like to strip away
slit eyes—sick of assimilation; the debilitating
task of tireless reinvention. Then came
the right solution: press curling iron
to sculpt a familiar countenance, black magic
marker graffitied over golden tresses. In horrific
absolution, I beheld plastic melt into a gooey mess.
Oh, the glorious stink of burning rubber!
Without further pomp or ballyhoo, I buried her
in the backyard by a stand of evergreens with
Ken for good measure, a pinecone in lieu of
a headstone to lie in peace—forever.