About this Poem 

This poem was commissioned for We the Poets, a collaborative project with the National Archives and the Academy of American Poets to celebrate American Archives Month in October 2014. To read more about the project and to view related photographs and documents from the National Archives, visit the Prologue: Pieces of History blog.

In a Legendary Light

I walk with simple people 
who wish me to believe that I am not an instant...

I lock the door and hear a knock. An angel peeks 
from the corner of a mirage... 
says my mother is the gardenia 

a nurse planted in her breast pocket 

My father's a secret gauze,  crinkling,  
the day I breathed...

I don't thank Fate, nor count my muses 
but give thanks to mathematics,
the number 7's breathless proportions.

When I was a model, I spoke as a model. 

When I was an actress, I spoke as a girl 
enamored by sunless rooms and yellow bars of spotlights.

(If the camera won't love you, who will?)

My nose was crooked like a long bridal veil
plink, plink, plink, I got married.

I knelt at the tabernacle of chaos.

plink plink, plink, I got married 
and mistook vodka for water. 
A gallon of sleeping pills and I dream of Neptune. 

Playboy parts scattered like bones on glassy paper. 
A centerfold, the portable trap of my vulgar self.

I pretended to be a baby chick locked to what its eye first seizes.
a quiet blonde shell without a libretto

whose skirt flutters in wild pentameters&emdash;
a GI's obscene flag.

I consider myself a missionary to the suburbs, 
like McDonald's or a really long rope.

A dimestore magic trick in legendary light.

"May Day May Day" cries the tabloids,
the lack-luster pages of my weekly planner.

Housewives want to be me 
but I'm only a glass bottle poised in a publicity still.

I'm just a woman. Bewildering June.  
Norma Jean. Lightheaded and I have strange dreams.

Copyright © 2014 by Regie Cabico. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by Regie Cabico. Used with permission of the author.