At first, Norma Jean was anonymous. Lonely streets ran
backward with a red line dividing them, so she snapped
the tape, bristling forward fighting that wasted street—
braids flew behind her head as butterflies churned.
She was a girl girl, complete with jeans, top and too
large eyes that wrestled the corners of buildings, made
choices that were not hers. She said it was a boundary
later in life. She saw the trap of the collapsing floor,
but nothing changed but her uneasy, simple ache.
Older men stared. Boys had no choice. She loved
them all. Attention helped her love her losses.
She sold pictures to Photoplay. Rivers of dark hair
raced down the bow of her spine. In 1946,
she will dye her hair blond, change her name,
make movies, and sleep with dominant, gentle men.
She charted her success sliding her ass on silk beds.
My Mother told me that, whispering. "I know."
She said, "Marilyn and I talk every day."
I breathe in her ear and she holds my hand.
"Edward. You told me while you were inside
how you felt my face, clean, just married, attendant
at your birth, while I wept and felt both of you.
We never expressed remorse, guilt, nor did we
wander in the mirror looking for disgrace."
My mother believed she was Marilyn Monroe. In every
trance she carried the woman as a great globe—
all the stonewoodplaster razed walls broken by fingernails
and knives were the only evidence the world
could bear as it measured the curvature of the spine,
fondled the nipples as simple tools that buzzed
and fed the millions what was sacred and holy.
God came in the night Mother said. She raised me up
and I simply walked softer the next day knowing I was
bound to Marilyn and we would push the swings,
and carefully teach you the melodies that sex sings.
One day I found Mother cutting at the edges of the walls,
chipping at the plaster, destroying the bookshelves
she pretended to love, finally, shattered with a stark death
mask borrowed from the cold war. "Marilyn's not dead.
Don't they know? She can't be.”
Our fingers laced vulva. See. You loved when she insisted
on you alone. I watched through the mirror.
She brought the lonely demons back, tentacles intact.
We loved you, Edward. You were never human male.
You did not strangle us in obvious ways.
Men slip the noose down our necksand set it beside our swallow --
and when we descend through trap doors, we break space—
our necks snap. We believed in paradise turning you over
to run our hands over the hills of your ass to find your male
clit. We even joked that a clit can be as large a child's cock.
You were not happy, but we assuaged your terrors,
and all was well in Eden again, and even Oedipus rested.
"You grinned. Admit it," mother said.
"We shared rooms that bound us; your sister
and the tempests and earthquakes would not hollow
guilt even now, many years later wet thighs
and the descent over Niagara into words
that Oedipus claimed were his domicile.
Indifferent to rough talk as foreplay,
when you became the child again
and I dry nursed to satisfy
what you had never known,
when the world split asunder, mysterious.
Seized by our room, outsiders were manikins.
They could not understand: light was more than Einstein
and had been born in the physical world where sex rules.
Startled by our affinity shivered. The gentle apocalypse
had still arctic blue eyes while Marilyn realized her intricate,
funny movies. With poise, we anticipated the derelict wave.
It became lines with diminished time, and increasing mass
and when time spoke out of order, nothing happened. Dazed
by the failed conformity, long lakes of sorrow trailed confused
birds when the birds discovered the land was gone – ocean
ruled even the tallest cliff and when they fed from the crest
of lipstick red waves, a monumental sun shone through
cream black clouds that followed the curves of my mother's
spine. The cups of her breasts pressed together, rode the hips
kissed black icons while surf pounded in ears in disharmony
until the next deadly day when someone ended Marilyn's
whispers, stripped them far away. At ease, my hands collected
my mother's legs, parted them – Years later, I heard breathless
strokes of Camel cigarettes exhaled. The scent of Chanel º5
from her hair, bra and the dirty clothes scattered on our bed.
My salted-cherry lips waves drowned in the silk of her gown
opened to reveal the fling of those Sirens, tits bred by Homer
for Odysseus to question the roads home as Joyce did in Dublin.
My Penelope masturbated while I stared, and giggled at the horror
show. My Mother had become that schoolgirl I knew at swim camp,
who much older, had asked me to teach her how to have one orgasm.