Mildred Pierce

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She’s not a bad person, really

caring about all the surfaces

protecting her pride from the upwardly mobile

cradling her daughter’s whims

perfectly as a crepe de chine afternoon dress

wafting perfume through a crush of superfluous flounces

under womanly hips,

the tender folds all riding up.

*

A pony and grand piano childhood

singing lessons and polo with your ex

you could have saved her just by saying no

*

Rejected by the finest maestro in California

scorning her tripping fingers with the blunt

sensation of a closing lip nearly crushing her knuckles

she’s sobbing in the courtyard

prostrate over tangling vines and Spanish stucco

if she can’t be the best who can she be?

*

Taking up with the fast crowd

a mink hanging over her receding figure,

she’s smoking with casting agents

shaking down the heir to a director’s fortune

California’s finest flashing their badges on a morals charge.

Pictures, how wonderful darling!

*

Carrying pies and waffles across the diner,

Mildred is sensually engaged,

as much as under Monte’s caresses

sunlight sweeping over the decaying grandeur

of the family pile while they stand in the corner

naked, tiffany lamps swatching the mahogany of late afternoon.

*

Veda blossoms into a radio coloratura,

Lakme floating through the seaside steakhouse

arresting the plebeian throng –

a snake so beautiful she stops traffic

returning in triumph to drain her mother’s resources

a coup de gras to beat the drab torture of suburban Glendale.

*

Bickering over the adornments

to reflect adulation as a diaphanous mirror

she will have all the accessories or nothing at all.

*

In the stalls,

Mildred glimpses familiar contortions through opera glasses

taken aback by the raw viciousness in her daughter’s face

a strident note alongside the perfect trills.

*

In the end she throws herself after Veda’s car

you can’t ever come back here, no way!

she is howling in the road

her guests spilling out of the wedding party

non-plussed.

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