Easter 1963 001
Confession
by Susan Scheid

I loved my Barbie.

My Barbie was beautiful,
with a long yellow pony tail just like mine.
My Barbie had tiny pearl earrings, a pearl necklace,
perfectly manicured hands and feet.

My Barbie was everything I was not–
worldly, elegant, fashionable–
because I was only six.

My Barbie went everywhere with me
riding in her black patent leather case,
her outfits neatly strung on tiny metal hangers,
her accessories in cardboard drawers underneath.

My Barbie had an extensive wardrobe of hand-stitched clothing
(thanks to a doting aunt) which ranged from dungarees and straw hats
to ball gowns with snap-off trains and feather boas.

My Barbie lived in several exotic locations
in an alcove in the dining room,
on the floor of my bedroom,
and my best friend Kim’s house.

I played with my Barbie for hours and hours on end.

I know what you may be thinking, but let me tell you something.

My Barbie loved to read and she owned books.

My Barbie liked math.

My Barbie had an ensemble for every occasion.

My Barbie was a strong, independent woman.

My Barbie had a career (which changed from executive to
secret agent to flight attendant depending upon
my mood) but she had no glass ceiling.

My Barbie believed in equality for all the dolls.

My Barbie was brave enough to escape from kidnappers
(more than once I might add) and to stand up
to my torturous older brother.

My Barbie did not have a boyfriend
all the men in her life were offstage.
I only knew about them from eavesdropping
on her phone calls (much like I did with my mom).

My Barbie was probably the embodiment of my mon,
my outspoken aunts, Grace Kelly, Katherine Hepburn,
and some other feeling I had but could not
explain because I did not have the vocabulary.

My Barbie was a feminist.

My Barbie did not need Ken to make her complete.

My Barbie may have been made of plastic, but she fleshed
out for me the woman I longed to become.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This photo was taken on Easter Sunday on the front steps of my house.  I was 3 1/2 and showing off my new Easter outfit.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE POEM: This poem was born from a conversation with my husband about how to write a piece about describing my childhood. He had suggested writing about my Barbie doll and the long-standing affection I have had with my own Barbie. At first, Barbie seemed like a subject that had been written about a good deal already, often in a sarcastic and ridiculing manner. However, in talking through with him what Barbie meant to me, I realized that our relationship was more about my imagination and how Barbie for me was Everywoman, capable of doing or being anything. Instead of the stereotype of Barbie holding girls back from realizing their potential as women, I realized that my own fantasy world with Barbie had been the exact opposite.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Scheid is part of the vibrant poetry community in Washington, DC. Her first collection of poetry, After Enchantment, was published in 2012. Her other publications include Tidal Basin Review, Requiem, Rose Red Review, The Unrorean, Bark!, Bark Two, and the chapbook Poetic Art. She is a member of the Board of Directors for Split This Rock. Susan co-curates a monthly poetry series for BAWA*/Brookland Arts in her Brookland neighborhood. As Artist in Residence, Susan has taught writing workshops at the Noyes School of Rhythm, where she also studies dance. She lives with her cats, sons, and husband who more often than not find themselves as subjects of her work.