Susan McLean

Help Me, Rhonda
Rhonda and I, cold-shouldered by
the other kids when we were ten,
shared nothing but our loneliness.
She, overweight and plain, and I,
too bookish and withdrawn back then,
found awkward union in distress.
Invited to play The Barbie Game
at home with her, I grudgingly
consented.  Board games left me bored,
and this game's object was to be
queen of the prom, which I deplored.
I had no friends, though, so I came.

To my delight, she had a stash
of superhero comics, treats
my own mom had refused to buy,
considering them wasteful trash.
I gobbled them like stolen sweets,
and let poor Rhonda fret and sigh. 
And when I deigned to play her game,
it drove me mad.  Was this dull plight
my future:  shopping, dating, dances?
No options but the chance to claim
stock boyfriends for routine romances?
Barbie was my kryptonite.
By summer's end, I shunned her door.
We never spoke again.  I knew
she'd shown me what I was: a user. 
Shamefaced, I retreated to
my fortress of solitude once more:
no superhero, just a loser. 

Susan McLean, author of The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife, is a retired English professor from Southwest Minnesota State University.  Her third book of poetry, Daylight Losing Time, will be published by Able Muse Press in 2023.