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.