Not a drinking establishment,
sparks strike when scraping asphalt,
just twenty-two inches off the ground,
a standard to annoy the truck industry
since that infamous death long ago
on a balmy night in June,
“Kiss them for me,” she said,
“I may find myself delayed.”
Did a Banshee sing this?
The underride prevention guard
was not fully implemented until 1998.
Please, Siouxsie, sing about this.
“And here they are, Jayne Mansfield”
was her welcome on the Tonight Show.
And she would laugh and arch her back
and squeeze her bosom into the camera.
She always danced with her eyes closed
and one hand held high above her head.
She furnished her Pink Palace with free samples
worth more than the mansion. She ordered
her husband Hargitay from a cocktail menu,
“I’ll have a steak and that tall man on the left.”
But her biggest juggling act, her greatest charade,
was balancing the allure of her vaunted stereotype
against the reality of an intellect well exercised.
So she bared her body in the pages of Playboy
and bared her voice on recordings with Hendrix.
She entertained USO sailors in 5 different languages
and delivered a smile above ubiquitous cleavage.
“Men are those creatures with two legs
and eight hands.”
And that summer, plant bugs were problematic
in Mississippi. They had decimated the first crop
of fruits and vegetables, of invaluable cotton.
Mosquitoes had swarmed after flood waters receded
and carried a nasty contagious strain of encephalitis.
Insecticides were thick in the air that night,
a mist, a brume. And the tractor-trailer
was forced to slow down behind the one
spraying the fogger. Visibility was naught,
shrunk to haze and blurred stars and light.
In the aftermath, comparisons were made in death
as they had been in life. Instead of Monroe,
or Van Doren, she was gruesomely compared
to Isadora Duncan, to Francoise Dorléac who died
three days earlier. Mariska remembers only fear
and a vague recollection of blood raining down
on the floormats and her zizag scar.
But reminders of her mother’s death
will never disappear. They travel behind
every truck by law, in the guise
of the extra bumper, the underride bar,
better known as the Mansfield bar.
“If you’re going to do something wrong,
do it big, because the punishment
is the same either way.”