For expediency’s sake I am writing this love letter to you, and to you, in duplicate, because there were two of you, D. and N., and neither of you knew of the other, — that is, neither of you knew at the time that the other was also my lover — though you were friendly acquaintances, and both of you knew my husband to about the same degree.
Is this the kitchen where she worked and thought / Is that the loft where their bodies fell / into each other The nail where the mirror / hung the shelf where her college books / eyed her aslant / Those stairs would her bare feet have felt?
I agree, it’s a hot topic. But only one? Look around, there’s a wide range. Take my own, for instance. I get up in the morning. My topic feels like hell. I sprinkle it with water, brush parts of it, rub it with towels, powder it, add lubricant. I dump in the fuel and away goes my topic, my topical topic, my controversial topic, my capacious topic, my limping topic, my nearsighted topic, my topic with back problems, my badly-behaved topic, my vulgar topic, my outrageous topic, my aging topic, my topic that is out of the question and anyway still can’t spell, in its oversized coat and worn winter boots, scuttling along the sidewalk as if it were flesh and blood, hunting for what’s out there, an avocado, an alderman, an adjective, hungry as ever.
As my skin shows / its dry pitting, she opens like a small / pale flower on the tip of a cactus; / as my last chances to bear a child / are falling through my body, the duds among them, / her full purse of eggs, gold and / firm as hard-boiled yolks, is about / to snap its clasp.
Marilyn was a kind of touchstone for writers. Unsure of her own identity, she identified with others. She was warmly responsive to those who showed an interest in her, and the best authors appreciated her human qualities. The Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov was as handsome and sophisticated as Nikita Khrushchev was coarse and crude. He met Marilyn at a Hollywood party while he was working on the screenplay of Lolita in the spring of 1960, and examined her as if she were one of his exquisite butterflies. Stacy Schiff wrote that “in Vladimir’s recollection, ‘She was gloriously pretty, all bosom and rose’—and holding the hand of [her current lover] Yves Montand. Monroe took a liking to Vladimir, inviting the [Nabokovs] to a dinner, which they did not attend.