"Words' Worth" Poetry Readings
Poets at the Culture, Arts, and Parks Committee
of the Seattle City Council.
To Marilyn Monroe Whose Favorite Color Was White
by Madeline Defrees
When you wriggled onto the silver screen, Marilyn--
honey blonde or platinum--I was a nun. I
found you too late in your satin sleep. Now, three
decades past, I grieve from that ancient
cloister, the alabaster body, my beautiful buried
sister. Convent movies had to be clean as
bleach. Even your titles
went wrong: All About Eve.
The Seven Year Itch. The Asphalt Jungle.
Some Like It Hot. How to Marry a Millionaire.
Sex was a bullet I dodged, that shot on the subway
grate! Skirts lifted to seventh
heaven, you scared me all right, as you scared your
Yet Joe was your friend in the end
as I hope to be. Bride at sixteen like you, given
another name, I was cast with the world's invisible
millionaire. We didn't know who we were,
Norma Jeane, too young to care. Even now I imagine
you posed--a pin-up everywhere woman who did it
for 50 dollars. I resent
the photographer smirking
away with the loot: the generous milky
breasts and bottom, pout of a wounded child. Too bad
the bad life fate guaranteed you:
dashing absent father, unmarried mother who
had to be locked away. Say cheese, Marilyn. Open
those pearly gates,
come back with me to my former
marmoreal splendor: the lily-pad I escaped
that was never my passion. Ivory walls, skulls in
our heads all day. Snowy sheets and colorless
towels. Chaste linens framing the parchment faces.
It was color I missed most of all,
white sister. I hated the pallor. I want you to play
this part over. I want to barge in as your crazy
mother stealing the scene: capsules
washed down the drain in a lethal river. The beauty
startled awake in the last act from that
white sleep history promised.