On April 24 I had the pleasure of reading at the Nora School with Martin Dickinson and Michele Wolf. Back in March I had posted Dickinson's "Homage to Euclid" but mathematics is not a a focus of Wolf's work. However, her poem below about Barbie has numbers, and any mention of Barbie reminds me of the controversy over "math is hard" -- one of the speeches uttered by an early 90's version of this doll. (Please visit this posting from June 14, 2010 -- on "Girls and Mathematics" for additional Barbie-comments and more Barbie poetry.) Here, now, please enjoy Wolf's poem:
Barbie Slits Open Her Direct-Mail Offer to Join AARP
by Michele Wolf
My worth is most inflated when, on tiptoes, I pose
In my original box, never handled, especially if I date
Back to '59 or '60. But that is rare. I am more used
To breaking out, to being the damp flamingo
Pecking to leave the shell. I prefer moving forward.
I was an astronaut in '65, a surgeon in '73. Last year
Was golden, a field of sunflowers waving in the wind:
I earned $1.2 billion and, through my foundation,
Funded a state-of-the-art children's hospital.
I never had children, although I certainly
Schtupped my brains out. "Excuse me," you say,
"You don't have a vagina, or any internal organs."
That's where you are wrong -- so entranced
By my smooth casing that you do not recognize
What a doll is. I am a metaphor. I am
My owner's vessel for dreams. I can be almost
Anything: warrior, soothsayer, princess. Imagination
Starts as soft clay but becomes a polished thing.
In this sense, yes -- with the occasional big-eyed Dora or
Velveteen, croaky SpongeBob -- I have been a parent.
It's the "almost" that still weighs on me at times. And
You should know that the surgeries have been painful.
I used to be young.
Wolf's poem is found in her recent collection, Immersion © 2011, by Michele Wolf, Hilary Tham Capital Collection, The Word Works.