Dear Doris Day

By Pamela Davis

Featured art: Untitled (Surreal Abstraction) by Benjamin F. Berlin

I trusted you to never change, when I was 15, and needed
to believe men and women sat up talking all night,
like the movie with you and Rock Hudson joking in a satin bed,

both of you in men’s pajamas you buttoned to the chin.
Alone in my room crammed with horse figurines, you
were all that stood between me and what hid under the sheet—

the straining warm blossom that held me in thrall. I believed
you’d always be Rock’s chum, immune to Cary Grant’s mink-
lined smile. I’d be like you, beehive my hair, keep my knees tight.

We could have driven forever, you and me and Rock
in a two-tone convertible he steered with his big, clean hand.
How could you fall for Clark Gable, a man with a moustache,

and clearly too old? A burglar’s eyes. Safecracker hands.
In the movie you played his teacher in twinset and pearls,
eyes big as pies when he cocked one leg over the edge of the desk.

I needed you to report him to the authorities, not follow him
to a nightclub. Later there would be torn sheets, cigarettes,
counting the days between periods. Bad men with keys.

But I never imagined you’d go out of style, show up in the tabloids
bloated and hazy, surrounded by stray dogs, and, last I heard,
living alone.

Pamela Davis’s poems can be found in The Evansville ReviewNimrod International JournalPoemSouthern Humanities ReviewSouthern Poetry ReviewThe Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and other publications. She lives with her husband and dogs in the flammable hills of Santa Barbara, California.

Originally published in NOR 9 Spring 2011

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