Writers at the Movies: After Douglas Sirk’s ‘Written on the Wind’ by R. Zamora Linmark

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After Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind

What past isn’t dark? Whose secrets don’t bruise?
Let’s start with the son: a profligate playboy, the booze-
soaked President of the Society for the Prevention of
Boredom, so filthy rich he dusts mornings with
a yellow sports car, uses a bourbon glass for an ashtray,
flies thousands of miles without looking at the sky
for a steak sandwich, and snatches from his down-
by-the-river best friend the soul-searching career-
comes-first-before-the-altar girl. He seduces her
with a hot pink hallway, a lavender suite, red-carpeted
walk-in closet, but finally wins her over with the midnight
blue of Miami. They marry. All is fine until the annual
visit to the doctor (or did it start much before that,
when the wind swept dead leaves into the mansion?)
Regardless, his year-old sobriety ends and childhood
nightmares of whiskey bottles and molestation flashbacks
return. He wakes up, sweating, too terrified to curse
his dreams. This morning, he cries like a baby
to his wife, keeps asking how can he ever give her
a child when he’s sleeping with a silver gun
under his head? A bedroom door slams. It’s his sister,
home alas, and smiling at the mirror—the taste of
the gas station attendant still ripe on her tongue.
She, too, has her drama and mottos—”I’m allergic
to politeness” and “I’m just plain filthy period!”
to nurture; her hobbies—back-alley lusts and wallowing
in elbow-length gloves and strapless gowns. With
the fireplace she lights a cigarette, stands before
the portrait of unrequited love, hesitates, puts on
a mambo record, then disappears beneath a see-through
sunset-orange chiffon gown. But the past, no matter
how rich and powerful, is as useless as their old man,
the oil tycoon who cannot buy out his children’s miseries
nor his own magnificent clichéd death, tumbling
down a winding staircase while his son grieves
for a lost child and his dancing daughter blasts the trumpet
solo so loud destiny cannot stop it, except perhaps
those almost-lost afternoons by the river when mulberry
juice passed for kisses, swimming was in the raw,
and tree trunks were skinned perfectly into hearts.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

zamora linmark

R. ZAMORA LINMARK‘s latest poetry collection, Pop Verite, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press. He has just completed his third novel titled These Books Belong to Ken Z. He is the Distinguished Visiting Associate Professor in Creative Writing at University of Miami and is currently working on a sequel to his first novel Rolling The R’s which, in 2016, will be twenty years old.

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