Young Gloria Swanson as the Lion's Bride
Mister DeMille is flabbergasted by this gutty
nobody with her damn-your-eyes blue stare.
She insists she wants to be in the Lion Pit scene
with a real lion. Demands it.
Says her pride as an artiste is involved.
It's her time, that time
when starlets cringe back and stars stride forth.
He's afraid the beast will fall on her
like she's made out of ham.
He'd like to strangle that milky neck, and says so,
but all the while his movie gut fiercely craves
that lovely freak face with its goddess bones, which he knows
could be successfully shot from any angle.
His life will never meet such a face again.
Finally she batters him down. She's adorned, perfumed,
clad in dancing pants and basic breastplates.
He directs with a revolver in his hand.
Shooting begins. She creeps into the musky pit,
turns, she and the brute lock eyes. Action commences
so terrifying that DeMille later tells intimates
he almost defaced his pearly jodphurs.
After a complex and seductive pursuit, monstrous claws
weaving after trembling brocades,
Swanson swoons to the rock floor. The lion
puts his heavy paw on her naked back and hotly breathes
up and down her spine. Sixty years later she would remember
how every hair on her body stood up.
The trainer lashes the beast away with his whip.
One take. A star shakes free from the red choke of mane.
Two weeks later DeMille and Swanson learn
the lion has flayed his trainer to the bone.
The poem was originally published in The Georgia Review.
Margaret Benbow is a poet and fiction writer whose poems and stories have been widely published. A collection of poems, Stalking Joy, won the Walt McDonald First Book Award. A collection of fiction,
Boy Into Panther and Other Stories, won the Many Voices Project Award and was published in 2018
by New Rivers Press.
The Ekphrastic Review
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