Fall 2017 / Poetry 2017 / Volume 48

The Demise and the Resurrection of the Diving Lady–Virginia Chase Sutton

At sundown, atop a 78-foot platform, the neon Diving Lady

jackknifes, blinks, stretches to her full ten feet, blinks, then

slides into baby blue ripples. It is a dive she completes

every six-and-a-half minutes, amassing a total of sixty-four

million leaps until a violent storm rips her from

the Starlite Motel’s flashing sign. It sends her tumbling towards

 

a fast, flat finish, twisted metal and every inch of glow shattered.

Back in 1958, brand new, she enticed travelers to Mesa, Arizona,

with luxury—symbol of a swimming pool—after spending hours

on the road through the desert. At dusk, motor court guests gathered,

refreshed. They sipped cocktails, took a swim, they gazed

as the Diving Lady did her stuff. But over decades, circumstances

 

changed. The pool was demolished and the motel became home

for poor and desperate people. Still she performed—beacon of history,

of funkiness, of civic pride, her public gawking at her incandescent

beauty. And after last year’s microburst, her life in ruins, everyone

mourned until a disciple of the original artist appeared. Given time

he was able to recreate, rescuing what he could. Eventually,

 

the middle jumping lady refurbished, placed on view in an abandoned

shop window at Fiesta Mall, floated, stretched lengthwise

as she kicked off the wall off a bygone pool. And as her two

sister pieces were still under repair in the artist’s workshop,

she floated. Looking close up at the window, new paint matched

an original chip of her dark blue suit. Brown lines stroked along

 

her body to mimic a tan beneath the blazing light. Bright yellow hair,

kiss of red lips, long white lines outlined her voluptuousness. She really

belonged headfirst but she was resting up for her return to the Starlite Motel.

It cost over sixty-five thousand dollars, donated by her lovers, her suitors,

those who gave what they could. By the time the final hand-bent tubing

was complete and she was reinstalled, all three movements in the Lady’s jump

 

arrived back home at last. From on high she hits her mark anew, crowds

gathering to cheer her leap, cheer her return as she is off again and again

for who knows how many more million jumps? Whistles echo as her dive

begins. Maybe all forget catastrophe, and what was kitsch becomes

landmark. Beloved, majestic, the shapely Diving Lady soars through

her paces, luminous again in all her neon glory, oh-so-anxious for rebirth.

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