À La Carte: Elegy for Black Barbie

You were the villain at tea parties, attacking the blonde society
barbies, with skin pale like fragile porcelain and eyes an unblinking
blue sky. You were dark as coffee, an uninvited stain on the white
rug I played on. I wanted to love you, being a gift from Grandma.
But you came without the glamorous accessories of gowns and pointed
shoes. Just an orange dress that I was reluctant to peel from your body.
Nameless, I placed you in solitary confinement inside the toy chest,
guarded by stuffed bears. Your red lipped smile haunted me as I slept.
You knew all my secrets. The jagged scars drawn on your face with
a crayon; my own cracked reflection. At seven I wished parts of
myself were replaceable: skin, eyes, and hair. That my body could be
manufactured into a product of beauty. Yet, it seemed you and I were
destined to be packaged as imitations of higher quality dolls. The
basement eventually became your final resting place, a mausoleum
for all things used and broken. I’m sorry it took twenty years for me
to mourn you and the small girl I buried.

Joy Young is a Chicago-based poet who recently earned her MA in writing and publishing from DePaul University. Her poetry has appeared in the literary journal Poetry East. When not creating poems, she volunteers as a writing coach for the nonprofit organization Open Books, where young Chicago students are given the opportunity to share and publish their own personal narratives.