Ms. Monroe – The New York Times

The Mrs. Files looks at history through a contemporary lens to see what the honorific “Mrs.” means to women and their identity.

“In America, a blonde is not just a blonde.” — William K. Zinsser

When I first let the mirror see me

in my high-street wedding dress, I lift the hem

and laugh into the lace, all mock-Monroe,

her skirt a breaking wave, her open mouth, her head

tipped back, accepting a communion wafer from the sky.

I press my fingers to the glass and feel them

pass through each reflection, every photograph

and — sweet impossibility — rest against the raised hand

of The Other Marilyn, not poster girl but poet,

the woman who filled notebooks with her nightmares,

dreams of emptying: the slab of the operating table,

the eminent doctors, the neat incision and its big

reveal, her insides nothing but sawdust. Marilyn

Monroe: not Mrs. Miller, Mrs. DiMaggio.

We have been wearing our white dresses

far too long — squeezing into spotlit silk, chiffon

the colour of nothing. Palm to palm in the mirror,

she swims towards me now and surfaces,

tears at her cream bodice, opens the skin

underneath, unfolds her heart and lungs

and what’s within her isn’t dust or hollowness

but a litany, a roll call, the true names of men:

Diego Kahlo, Johnny Carter, Jackson Krasner,

Martin Luther Scott and in the nameless dusk

she repeats them all until they seem beautiful.

I can’t stop reading her lips.

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