Tuesday Poem: ‘Settling for Action Man’ by Claire Orchard

Settling for Action Man

That summer, blond Cindy (mine),
and blonder Barbie (borrowed,
belonging to my absent older sister)
spent many a weekend afternoon
on Niamh Guinness’s back lawn, partying hard
with Niamh’s brunette Cindy.
Yes, we keenly felt the lack
of a Ken doll. A Ken would have
brought us closer to a gender balance,
but Kens were in short supply
in our neighbourhood.
A Ken, with his blond hair and permasmile,
would have provided the perfect foil
for any, indeed all, of the female dolls,
despite his squishy head.
Without a Ken, we had to make do
with an Action Man borrowed
from Niamh’s oblivious older brother.
Action Man, although ruggedly handsome,
had visible hinges on his elbows and knees,
and his unwavering expression
of utter disdain made it harder for us
to pretend he fancied any of the girls.
Still, we had him plant long, hot, plastic kisses
upon their small, pink-painted mouths,
all the while pressing his camo-clad body
suggestively against them. Of course
the anatomical deviations of the participants
their obvious shortcomings and exaggerations
meant from the outset any action we choreographed
fell well short of our cherished romantic notions.
We made do. It proved valuable preparation.

‘Settling for Action Man’ is part of Claire Orchard’s debut collection, Cold Water Cure.  The collection will be launched at the Writers Week VUP Launch Party on Thursday 10 March (alongside Dad Art by Damien Wilkins and Fits and Starts by Andrew Johnston). It’s an event I don’t want to miss! You can read a Q&A with Claire about her collection and its ‘main character,’ Charles Darwin on These Rough Notes. You can read my review of the collection on The Pantograph Punch.

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