Poetry 2014 / Volume 45

Hourglass — Susana Case

The porter runs over to ask if I want him
to take my photo with Marilyn Monroe,
J. Seward Johnson’s life-sized
statue in the Washington, DC hotel lobby.
Marilyn, the skirt of her white halter dress
lifted by a blast from a subway grate,
a scene from The Seven Year Itch,
shot two weeks before
her separation from Joe DiMaggio.

What more can anyone say about her,
without giving up on Marilyn, the way
she gave up on herself, lonely,
in despair at not being taken seriously.
I don’t want to give up on myself,
don’t want to be the boss of loss.

Let’s, instead, eat cake together, Marilyn,
damn the waistline, drink
margaritas until we can’t stop
laughing, take our high heels and grind
grief into the sidewalk! Let’s steal
Better Than Sex mascara from Sephora
and layer it on thick as molasses!

I’m addressing a Marilyn who doesn’t exist,
frozen in place in the lobby,
her dress, those years, when it seemed
the only hourglass was her vibrant figure.

And here’s the porter, who didn’t give up,
his photo of me, smiling.
I gaze out steadfast, cocky in my choices,
no need at all to prepare for contingencies.

As if Marilyn didn’t swallow so many pills.
As if the dress didn’t yellow with age.

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