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Monday, February 11, 2013


given by Marilyn Monroe to Sylvia Plath in a dream

by Kate Bernadette Benedict

[In his new biography of Sylvia Plath, American Isis, Carl] Rollyson points to an often ignored journal entry from October 1959 in which Plath recounts being visited by Marilyn Monroe in a dream. Monroe, Plath writes, was dressed like a "fairy godmother" and appeared in a setting that she imagined to be similar to an upcoming dinner party with T.S. Eliot to which she and Hughes had been invited. Plath writes: "I spoke, almost in tears, of how much she and Arthur Miller meant to us, although they could, of course, not know us at all. She gave me an expert manicure. . . . She invited me to visit during the Christmas holidays, promising a new, flowering life." --Micah Mattix, The Wall Street Journal 
Image source: The Cheryl Flavour

Who is this, under stage light, bowing over my gnawed and ink-dark nails?
It is the White Goddess, with the platinum air.

It is the moon woman, in full, in full illumination.
She is in my thrall, it is a wonderment. She is at my beck and call.

See how she eradicates the blue discolorations!
She achieves an alchemy; the cuticles dissolve.

The bright chromium of her tools, the shimmering lotions!
How is it such holiness misspends itself on me¾

Me with my Maenad’s fury and my matronly hair?
It is like being stung by a seraph or poured into the cup of a tulip.

The jars are arrayed before us, the glamorous polishes.
Tangerines, mauves, and those appalling plasma reds.

These lights are the lights of Migraine, I cannot choose now.
But the hour is late, and the audience is waiting.

See them staring at us, in the Stygian shadows?
A vast arrangement of bald heads, utterly still.

What do they want from us, blonde godmother?
What must we do, do, do to make them satisfied?

I do not think they require a death.
That is another matter entirely.

What is the name of that pale lacquer with the mirrory sheen?
I would name it Isis, I would name it Icicle.

How you perfect me now, with your finishing touches!
White nails, the immaculate hands of a virgin, my hands.

They will dance poems onto pages, danses macabres, arabesques.
I will join you one day in the Pantheon, I am statuesque.

Kate Bernadette Benedict is a poet living in Riverdale, NY. She was the editor/publisher of the online poetry journals Umbrella and Tilt-a-Whirl.