‘I Saw Audrey Hepburn’

I saw Audrey Hepburn under a halo of wild buffalo,
A stinking fur of animal over clean America.
Sleepily, I thought about Audrey Hepburn’s tongue
Against a cigarette, I felt it move
Beneath the matted snorts and snot
Of wet-nosed shoulder-heavy buffalo spirits
Hoofing the dry earth.
Either she enslaved or was enslaved by them;
I saw no chains or buckles
Through their horns nor around her thin neck.
It was only a bulky darkness, a vision of the murk
Of America exported. Did Audrey Hepburn herself
Slay and eat raw buffalo, squatting naked
With Cary Grant to grind bones and meat with her bloody teeth,
Those playful eyes something else? Did she in private
Grunt and snarl at strangers who came too close
To her food? Did she ever try to kick Gregory Peck to death,
The bare soles of her feet pounding into his chest?
Is this Hollywood’s beast secret,
This blind, murdering animal?
What have I seen – what have I done
In recording what I saw?
I saw Audrey Hepburn in a half-dream, sleepy,
Under a halo of wild buffalo,
And I saw her hot tongue light a cigarette.
That was all.

 

Published in The Reader
(Oxford University Poetry Society magazine), 1998