At the soda fountain, a row of girls and dolls
with combed hair and clear eyes
sip pink frappes from pink straws,
their perfect pink lips mining sweetness.
We stand a little apart, doll-less
and spent after a day of school shopping.
It’s hard not to touch things.
The endless outfits and boxes of bitty babies,
the flip-flop rainbows and the sleds
complete with matching dogs. Above us,
mothers wait while their daughters
stand by their charges, watching silently
as scissors trim bangs and clip
stray curls. Further from reality,
attendants paint miniature decals
on pastel nails and apply sticky lip gloss.
Further still, a nervous child
fills out an admissions form
as her look-alike on crutches
dozes in a distant chair.
I suppose we’ll never know
how it feels to play at any life we want—
fantasy safe inside affluence’s glass—
but it doesn’t matter.
We embrace the rumpled air as we step out again
into the fine, flawed world.