Today's poem is by Susan J. Erickson

Marilyn Monroe Imagines Her Life as Menu Items at Schrafft's

            Tomato Aspic

I was an abandoned passenger, my father
a train departed before I was born. My mother's
mind softened like aspic unmolded on a warm plate.
She took to wearing a nurse's white uniform
believing she had power to cure illness.
In Rockhaven Sanitarium mother said, "Radio waves
are destroying my brain."
            From the orphanage window
the RKO Studio sign—tower atop globe—
beamed bright waves on me.

            Chopped Egg Sandwich

American sex goddess, innocent
as white bread with trimmed crusts.
That was who I agreed to be. My eyes
            stayed Norma Jeane blue,
but the rest of me? My hair was a scraggly field.
It was straightened, bleached, dyed,
shaped, trimmed, permed. Makeup
camouflaged the bump on my nose.
My dumpling chin was sculpted
and I was renamed.

            Clam Chowder

My gum line was too high. To conceal
            its indecent pink
I was coached to lower
my upper lip when smiling. I practiced
before the mirror, my lip quivering
like a child eating chowder with a fork.

            White Angel

Truman Capote and I drank
White Angels—half gin, half vodka.
Truman kept his hands
around the drink.
            I was his beautiful child.
When we danced he held
my wrist so I wouldn't get lost.
If I were Snow White, then he was Gossip,
my witty dwarf.

            Apple Pie

In my favorite poem of his, Mr. Yeats cautioned,
never give all the heart. I laid down a crust
over what was bruised and blighted.
Drawn by the scent of sweet cinnamon,
men ordered me: dessert à la mode.
            None of them the father.
Moth from the moon pinned to the past—
attempting escape, I tore myself apart.

Copyright © 2017 Susan J. Erickson All rights reserved
from Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine
Brick Road Poetry Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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