“My Father Met Jayne Mansfield” by Joseph Hirsch

He must have sensed her blonde came from a bottle…. and that his parents were liars, too.

He met her as a child
which somehow seems a waste, a thwarted
prepubescent prank played by a horndog demigod. 

His head only came up to the curve of her oft-measured breasts,
and when he peeked, he was still probably young enough to think milk
rather than of grazing nipple in some tentative first act of foreplay. 

Vegas and everything else were more discreet about their evil back then.
One couldn’t sense the cancer clustered in the atomic neon sunbursts,
nor hear the death rattle of the mobster with the slit throat
in Sinatra’s sonorous croon. 

Still my father must have sensed her blonde came from a bottle,
and that, had blonde been her real color, it hardly would have mattered,
or somehow made her follicles more blessed or angelic,
added or subtracted from her IQ once measured at something like 165
(nobody cared about that, either). 

He must have known that his parents were liars, too,
that there were no good guys,
even in World War II:
like some Girl Friday ashing her cigarette in a skull
her husband sent home from the Pacific
or the reservist who cut gold fillings out of “Jap mouths” with a KA-BAR
now gladhanding flesh at the Peoria Chamber of Commerce. 

Jayne died in a cream-colored Buick Electra in Biloxi,
though rumors of her decapitation
were greatly exaggerated.
And whether she made love to American Presidents
or Satanic Priests
in addition to mobsters and pornographers
hardly matters now.

My father met Jayne Mansfield
before the world and its evil
had quite coiled around his throat,
constricted the very heart in his chest,
making him understand gravity
like the burden of a beautiful woman’s endowments –
and how grace sometimes comes
when death and cream-colored Chevies
sever us from sin. 

I personally pray they buried her
in something besides cheetah print.

Joseph Hirsch is the author of many published books. His shorter works have appeared Terror House, 3 AM, and Bull: Men’s Fiction. www.joeyhirsch.com

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