After Happily Ever After Wendy Taylor Carlisle

How Could Norma Jean

be any other high school angel, unnoticed
in the back row, not enrolled

in pliant blond, not translated from angular childhood
once she found the appetite

in new-milk skin and that proficiency in the thrown-back head,
in arms akimbo? She had to

amplify on schoolgirl, ingénue. And wouldn’t you agree
to alter and become that Playmate,

skirt blown north? Fidelity never flashed so white a smile.
Praise that absolute waist, those thighs

that ripened and tired in Technicolor. But how could she stay
at the party later,

sleepily crooning “Happy Birthday,” sewn into that impossible gown?
Out on the rim of self-invention,

a stranger teases us one screen farther, Norma dissolved to an eloquent
flicker, The End indistinct in black and white.


October 2003 2River