Denise Duhamel




In Chicago, a Barbie
loses her arm. Only the boy next door knows he has taken it
to use as a toothpick. A little girl
refuses to throw that Barbie away
and knots her doll's right sleeve
that hangs limp like a sail on a breeze-less day.
Another Barbie in Seattle has a run-in
with a German Shepherd
who leaves her face as scarred
as Marla Hanson's. It would be easy
for a child to cry for another doll,
but this little girl suffers
from bouts of eczema on her forehead.
She knows Barbie is still the same underneath.
In Baton Rouge, Barbie's hand melts into a finger-less fist,
a nob, when someone leaves her on top of a stove.
In Missoula, Montana, a baby sister cuts off most of Barbie's hair
not realizing it won't grow back.
Creative mothers invent slings and casts, flattering hats.
Our impulse to destroy what is whole,
to coddle and love what we have injured


Differently-Abled Barbies appeared in The Chicago Review and KINKY (Orchises Press, 1997).