Ernesto Cardenal, the Nicaraguan poet, priest and revolutionary whose works included Prayer for Marilyn Monroe, has died aged 95, the New York Times reports. “I was studying for the priesthood in a seminary in Colombia,” he explained, “and, during a theology class, we got the news of Marilyn Monroe’s death. That’s when I wrote the poem.” (You can read it in full here.)
“Forgive her, Lord, and forgive us
for our 20th Century
for this Colossal Super-Production on which we all have worked.
She hungered for love and we offered her tranquilizers.
For her despair, because we’re not saints
psychoanalysis was recommended to her …
And her life was unreal like a dream that a psychiatrist interprets and files.
Her romances were a kiss with closed eyes
and when she opened them
she realized she had been under floodlights
as they killed the floodlights!
and they took down the two walls of the room (it was a movie set)
while the Director left with his scriptbook
because the scene had been shot…
… The film ended without the final kiss.
She was found dead in her bed with her hand on the phone.
And the detectives never learned who she was going to call.
like someone who had dialed the number of the only friendly voice
and only heard the voice of a recording that says: WRONG NUMBER.
Or like someone who had been wounded by gangsters
reaching for a disconnected phone.
whoever it might have been that she was going to call
and didn’t call (and maybe it was no one
or Someone whose number isn’t in the Los Angeles phonebook)
You answer that telephone!”