Medea With Child
First GLOSSY and then CHASTEN emerge and prop themselves on pillows.
GLOSSYI've been meaning to ask you. Your wife was quite famous in her day, wasn't she?
CHASTENOh, yes, she was.
GLOSSYI've been meaning to ask you, what exactly did she do?
CHASTENAh, she was magnificent, You wouldn't think it to see her now, but she could hold them in the palm of her hand.
GLOSSYEveryone says so. I was wondering what at.
CHASTENAt Barcelona once they had to move into the stadium. Security was impossible.
GLOSSYShe was a rock star, then?
CHASTENRock, ether, water, fire. It was all the same. She slayed them, laid them in the aisles. You wouldn't think it now.
GLOSSYI mean, what did she call her act?
CHASTENOh, "Death Diva."
CHASTENSometimes "Kitchen Witch."
CHASTENYou should have seen. The world was ready for her then. It was the 'sixties.
GLOSSYI only meant...What did she do?
CHASTENAh. She did Wagner, Jack the Ripper, Janis Joplin, Sylvia Plath. The Plague, schizophrenia, Sid Vicious, Lucrezia Borgia. Anne Sexton was her best turn, she was too early for AIDS. She did snakes under water, sawed herself in half. It was her area of expertise.
CHASTENHad one whole evening of tuberculosis, in oils and prose. Refined, that. Though I myself preferred The Doors.
CHASTENTrap doors, shattering glass, balconies and turret plunges, bombs away. Tried a nuclear blast once but it was over the top.
CHASTENRichard Burton, Richard Speck, psychosis, streptococcus, Bombay. It's a wide field. Fifth acts, in particular; John the Baptist, Son of Sam. Never got into animals, she was squeamish.
GLOSSYI'm glad to hear--
CHASTENFood poisoning, ritual disemboweling—had a first rate lighting man—John Belushi, arctic cold. Oh, yes, she was splendid in her prime, I give her that.
GLOSSYYou must have been very proud—
CHASTENHemlock, heroin, crack, hari kari. Stevie Smith.
© Janet Burroway. All Rights Reserved.