Saturday, May 10, 2014

Barbie (b 1959) said (c 1990) "math is hard"

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.

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