Marilyn (un)dressed by dee Hobsbawn-Smith

Poem title: Marilyn (un)dressed
Poet name: dee Hobspawn-Smith
Poem: Beside you in the museum gallery, a teenaged mother-girl,
halter-top tied over generous tattoos, audacity 

in her sideways grin at a row of famous dresses 
adorning dressmakers’ dummies. She exclaims over glowing taffeta 

and silk, lush velvet. You wonder out loud about breasts, 
Marilyn’s no larger than what hides beneath your t-shirt. 

More than clothes created that aura, goddess-lore spilling 
beyond the celluloid image, his hands on that sex-queen physique

captured in the photographer’s silver sizzle, her clothing gaped at– 
art, or a sideshow? 

Sewn into a strapless sheath for her serenade, 
imagination adds breathy details as she sings 

Happy birthday, Mister President, quicksilver dress, 
skin a-shimmer beneath the crushing weight of crystals.  

(Un)dressed for The Seven Year Itch, white skirt a cloud 
around her legs above the subway’s hot breath, neighbour man entranced, 

building heat. Her stage-name and sex-goddess image a stone albatross,
finally coldcocks her, newspapers agog 

with salacious details of her death alone, 
eyelids canopied over luminous blue eyes, invitation shuttered.
Fashion mannequins and video dance-queens mirror her sexuality 
on catwalks and online, monetized, weaponized, glamour all hard 

surfaces, lacking the softnesses that made Marilyn human, frail 
as you, as tattooed teen’s teething baby smiling 

in a rattletrap stroller, small hands reaching 
for the comfort of breasts. Leave the gallery more vulnerable, 

cherish women’s seasons – the child still maiden, then divinely 
ripened breasts and hips, finally an elder’s clear vision.

You inhabited the goddess-role briefly before your season
passed. She never lived past full-blown rose.
End of poem. 
Credits and bio: Copyright © dee Hobsbawn-Smith
Previously published in Among the Untamed published by Frontenac House, 2023. A very early version appeared in the University of the North’s online journal, The Quint, in Vol. 2.2, 2010.
dee Hobsbawn-Smith (she/her) writes award-winning poetry, novels, short stories, and essays which are sometimes influenced by her background as a chef and local foods advocate. She lives and works west of Saskatoon, in Treaty Six Territory, where she served as the Saskatoon Public Library’s 35th Writer in Residence, and earned her MFA in Writing and MA in English. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. She has written ten books; her most recent books include Bread & Water, published in 2021 by University of Regina Press, which combines food writing with the personal essay in a meditation on place and home. It won the SK Book Award for Best Nonfiction, and Taste Canada’s Gold Medal for Culinary Narrative; Danceland Diary: a novel, was published by Radiant Press, and was a finalist for SK Book Awards’ Best Fiction. Her latest book is Among the Untamed: poems, published by Frontenac House as part of their 2023 Spring Quartet. In her spare time she cooks, gardens, quilts, grows orchids, and runs. She’s a fan of good chocolate, period movies, and detective novels. She hopes to learn to play her guitar before she turns 80.