Play date

When I was a child, Christmas of ’96,
Santa brought me a pink Barbie camper van.
My cousin Jonathan sat in it, breaking apart the sides
before I even had a chance to put the batteries in.
My dad jokes, one day in thirty-some-odd years
my cousin and I will be in an argument
and I’ll throw the van in his face,
the literal toy so heavy it could be a weapon,
to this day it’s in storage, he jokes, waiting to be avenged.
Childhood injustices are hard to make peace with
knowing they will always be in your foundation,
little hand prints laid into fresh cement,
and to this day I find the quiet destruction
that chips at this unparalleled in evoking frustration,
muddling over the old notion of knowing better.
My cousin was a toddler,
too cataclysmic in his breathing alone
to know he could break something
my parents saved for weeks to afford and could not replace; a child
that young cannot grasp intention or impact, they act on instinct.
To this day, that pink van has a large bend
in the plastic; it’s in my parent’s attic.
Whenever a partner or friend does something destructive,
quiet, knowing the consequences will be irreparable
and they do it anyway, I look at my hands and see plastic.
My eyes gloss and my hair falls limp
a doll. To them, at least.
It was always advertised these parts are limited
edition, a human often damaged in the same way
can’t sustain replacing, what, was. I wish
I could look at them as a child unaware
of their strength and the outcome of conscious choice,
it took months to afford my trust, and still,
I was considered then discarded like wrapping paper
in the way of something wanted more.
I don’t know what toys are in their parents’ attics’ if any,
I keep the van in mine because it taught me appreciation,
how to care for something.
A collectors item, the van would be worth
over six hundred dollars undamaged, but as is,
I have a concrete reference I can pull out of the insulation
to see the difference in a curious mistake
and a calculated risk taken
at my expense.

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