Thursday Apr 18

Silano Poetry Martha Silano is the author of five poetry books, including Gravity Assist (2019), Reckless Lovely (2014), and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (2011), all from Saturnalia Books. She also co-authored, with Kelli Russell Agodon, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice. Her poems have appeared in Paris Review, Poetry, and American Poetry Review, among others. Martha teaches at Bellevue College, near her home in Seattle, WA.

I Work at the Barbie Factory

Because my fingers were nimble,
because I had a penchant for the tiniest

plastic stiletto boots, I was head-hunted
by Mattel. I thought Ken and Skipper

would be here, but this place deals only
with the queen of them all, the one with

of-the-moment skirt. There are molds
for all her parts; wrists pop into place,

while the feet, calves, knees, and thighs
are all of a piece, snap into the hips

like a jazz aficionado blissing out
to Kind of Blue. The hardest part?

Painting those perky lips a subtle pink.
Each doll’s inspected. If not standing

on tiptoe, a buzzer is pushed,
and the forelady whisks her off

for rehabilitation. Don’t think I’m not
tempted to tamper with the molds, render

Barbie height/weight proportionate, not
39/18/33. Don’t think I get a kick

out of cutting out the fabric for her glam it up
heart-print dress, her on-trend blouse. I’ve tried

to rebel, to double the size of her waist,
to re-design her wrists into working appendages

that can actually lift, but the truth is I can’t afford
a pink slip. Be the change, I hear you saying,

which is all well and good, but sometimes
people get hurt, suffer in ways you can’t imagine,

though I do recall that broken-ribbed skeleton
of a female in the Mutter Museum, the result

of wearing a whale bone corset. I’m just obeying
protocol, insuring each face is genuine Silkstone,

each body sculpted and smooth. That each doll
arrives like a smiling corpse in its cellophane box.