The Flying Nun Rests Against a Lifeboat
Sally Field, between takes, leans
against a wooden lifeboat, beached.
It’s January. Her bare feet look as cold
as the remnants of snow on the sand.
Under her nun’s costume she wears
a harness that gives her excellent posture.
She cannot slouch like the costume rosary
sliding off her lap. Her white headdress
looks like gulls’ wings. In fact, two distant
gulls like mini-nuns soar by. Beneath this gray
sky she cannot imagine giving Forrest Gump
advice and chocolates, or spilling her
guts over a daughter’s film-set grave,
or standing up for union rights and
winning an Oscar. We already like her,
but she doesn’t know it yet. Her feet hurt.
She’s been up since four a.m. for makeup
and wardrobe. The script changes she has
memorized are as bad as yesterday’s. This
could be the end of my career, she thinks,
unaware of the convent behind her, nuns
inside peeking out the windows at Sally
and the lifeboat, wishing they, too, might
don a harness and soar through the heavens,
their white veils billowing like sails.
Pat Valdata is a poet and novelist. Her poetry book about women aviation pioneers, Where No Man Can Touch, won the 2015 Donald Justice Poetry Prize. Her other poetry titles are Inherent Vice and Looking for Bivalve. Her poetry has been published in Ecotone, Fledgling Rag, Italian Americana, Light, Little Patuxent Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She has a new novel, Eve’s Daughters, out from Moonshine Cove Publishing. Her other novels are Crosswind and The Other Sister. Pat is a retired adjunct professor who lives in Crisfield, Maryland, with her husband Bob Schreiber.
4/12/2021 01:59:33 pm
This poem is so evocative with images, and the highlights of Sally Fields's career. I love that real nuns are eyeing her from their convent windows. Cape May is one of my favorite places. Had never seen this Wyeth painting. My aunt worked in a hospital pharmacy with nuns that wore similar habits, and I was mesmerized by the "hats." The poet accomplishes much here.
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