If I could bring her back to life
Norma Jean Baker would return,
this time happy without end.
Joe would treat her like a woman,
Arthur would let her be
who she needed to become.
Joe would keep on being
a knight at arms, Arthur
the one for whom justice
is the ineluctable truth.
She could be Marilyn Monroe
and herself besides.
Could she ask for more?
Well, she might find privacy
to read The Brothers Karamazov
in a more faithful translation,
the one from Paris Sontag praised.
. . . practice her Beckett
without a mirror in her way.
She could enjoy silence.
It’s been nearly fifty years
since whatever happened
happened. How could you love
her body so far away from yours?
How could you not? You were
a child. She was a woman. You
were a boy reaching puberty.
You fondled yourself like she
would be fondling you if she
only knew you were alive.
Not like Alyosha, or Ivan,
more like Dmitri with Grushenka.
He was the Karamazov with gall.
Little wonder he went to trial.
I sat in the van drinking beer
during coffee breaks
at the unemployment office
reading to the end of the novel.
She turned over in her grave,
tried the lid of the coffin.
It gave. She came awake.
How could she have slept so long?
She would go back and start over.
Maybe this time read Tolstoy too.
Maybe even Jean Genet.
You had to know the worst
to do better. Norma Desmond
was not Norma Jean Baker’s
mother. She was no prima donna.
Nor was she the self-made thief
or brothel prostitute, but O hell,
why not play the role if art’s involved?
Would Tolstoy have studied Beckett?
Anna Karenina is Waiting for Godot?
Demons on The Balcony?
And she loved the way she looked.
It was other people were her hell.
Sartre had it right in No Exit /
Huis Clos . . . and a devil sang
like an angel to win the lady
to his bed smoothing her soft
curves with his hungry hands,
her thirsty thighs. Then you could sleep
through the warm nights of Los Angeles
beginning the sixties.
(26 October-26 November 2010)