Kaitlin Chao is a high school senior from California who has been commended by the Scholastic Art and Writing foundation. Her works are forthcoming or have been published in the Moledro Magazine and the print edition of Teen Ink. In her spare time, she competes in varsity debate and conducts machine learning research. 

M A R I L Y N


B Y   K A I T L I N   C H A O

​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

​​​Here folks linger but never stay. Here Marilyn 
winnows silver laughter through naked teeth,
swigs gin like chilled love.
Lesser men and lost magpies flock to her screen 
silhouette, their dark heads illuminated
red by the cinema light glow. Onstage
the rolling camera pins her down like a jeweled
beetle. Marilyn sings the color gold, flips up her
bowline lips like polished quarters. I wonder if
they ever arch into enough of a smile. The night 
she pushed sugar-pale pills under her tongue, did she 
finally learn to breathe? Perhaps
in that crystallized moment, Marilyn 
becomes a child again –
look, there’s Mama slipping a cool hand 
against the cusp of her cheek, 
voice smooth like cherry wine. Marilyn 
in a checkered pinafore, 
tossing cracker crumbs to dabbling ducks. Marilyn
in calisthenics class, standing
barefoot on the scale, stomach sucked in. Marilyn 
in a too-tight wedding gown, dimpling hard 
so her cheeks puncture, deflate. 
She recalls Ophelia, who fell asleep in
on a marble-blue river. That virginal white foam 
of eyelet lace drags her arms down, 
down. Sinking through dark water, weightless. 
Her hooded eyes gazing up at the lens. Marilyn 
drowning. Here, Marilyn 
dead.