Chuka Susan Chesney
MARILYN; GIRL BIKE
MARILYN: CROSSED OUT
MARILYN: GREY GOOSE
Marilyn My Mother
I remember my mother lying on the bed in her negligee, sleeping. She didn’t look dead, but she was out cold in the middle of the day. Every week my mother went to the beauty parlor. She had an updo and her hair was dyed brown. Our maid or my father or my sister or my grandpa took care of me.
My mother wasn’t drunk. She was depressed. When I was older, I had times of depression and lay in bed and slept, too.
There is a certain photograph of Marilyn Monroe taken by Bert Stern in a Bel Air bungalow, six weeks before she died. One of her eyes is hidden by a shadow. The other eye half-closed. She is wrapped in a sheet. Her shoulders bare. She has a secret in her smile; she smiles slightly but her exposed eye is sad. I have painted and drawn this photograph of Marilyn over one hundred times, in watercolor, mixed-media, acrylic, pen and ink, pastel, and colored pencil. My mother was always a little bit vacant. I search Marilyn’s pupil for a glimpse of my mother.