So who's left from the golden age?
A few bit players in their 90's
wheeled about by oblivious nurses
at the Hollywood Motion Picture Home.
Gable, Bogart, Lombard, Harlow, Chaplin . . .
if you were ever twenty feet high
in glossy black and white,
then now you're nothing but bones
beneath six feet of color.
My mother imagined herself Judy Garland,
sang "Over the Rainbow"
while pegging up wet sheets on our backyard line.
She couldn't live now because
there's no one she could be.
And my father . . . Errol Flynn surely . . .
even if the war he fought
did not do well by swashbucklers.
And now Hepburn, long withered
to a shell in her Connecticut fortress,
a Howard Hughes with a Brahmin accent,
as dead as your Aunt Amelia, your cousin Jo,
the Dream Factory's very last bitter wakeup call.
Oh sure, I watched "The Philadelphia Story" again last night.
It made me wish that those once close to me
had made movies, been stunning actresses, stars even.
It's true that Katie has a tough time dying
when parlor lights are low
and she struts down the concrete apron
of her swimming pool
in a one piece bathing costume,
towel around her shoulders,
hair so red the film almost goes color on me.
But dead she is.
Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, likewise.
My wife declares, "I love Hepburn" . . .
the present tense . . . as if the lady lives.
I must tell my parents how much I love them.
Who knows . . . perhaps the photographs will flicker.
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