I pounded nails through her creamy palms
and impossibly arched feet.
She never screamed, bled, or healed
–my breasted, blonde pink Jesus—
—not a doll at all—but a gendered totem.
I had what you’d have to call a passion.
Before the microwave,
before the Whirlpool trash disposal,
I’d stuff her down the gaping mouth
of my father’s mounted terror-eyed fish
so that only her white hair would show
in a narrative called Barbie and the Rabid Bass.
Or she would burn and melt in the furnace.
Her chemical skin blackening
in Barbie: Virgin Bride of the Volcano.
But I’d generally have her crucified.
My sister would find her, pull her down,
go weeping like Mary Magdalene
to my parents.
Always a new Barbie would appear in her cellophane casket
with her turquoise frying pan or a neon pink vacuum.
Zealous, I continued to nail her everywhere I could—
—the tree by the bus stop, under the grape arbor,
the telephone pole, out by the mailboxes—
but I couldn’t save her.
Always my sister would pull her down,
and make her play her truly suspect games:
Give her to Kubla Ken, Sheik of the Sandbox,
who would rescue her from white slavery,
give her a patio, fashion shop, dream house.
A disdainfully rich and powerful man,
Ken would force himself upon her
in what you’d have to call a marriage.
“Passion” first appeared in Washington Square, vol. 10, p. 253, 2002.