Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Material World

I read this afternoon that Liz Rosenberg confirmed that Madonna and Guy Richie are planning a divorce. The first thing I thought of was a poem by Sharon Olds, "Summer Solstice, New York City." This is how the poem begins:
By the end of the longest day of the year he could not stand it,
he went up the iron stairs through the roof of the building
and over the soft, tarry surface
to the edge, put one leg over the complex green tin cornice
and said if they came a step closer that was it.
I pictured Madonna in her English castle, surrounded by telephones and assistants and stylists and hairstylists and makeup artists and emails and photos to approve or not approve, five or six syringes full of liquid pink B12 rubber-banded together on the side table. I saw her surrounded by her estimated $400 million net worth, by her three children, each born to a different father, by her rows upon rows of Givenchy and Gautier couture. I saw her there, now at the end of her longest day of the year, and saw that she could not stand it.

I don't know if it seems shallow, or naive, or melodramatic, but I feel really sad for her. I'm sure it sucks for him, too--but I don't know him very well. I've known her my whole life--or whatever her she has constructed for us to know in the last twenty-five years--but so what? What, in the end, is the difference? She was there when my my mother pulled the VCR's plug out of the wall after she heard Madonna say 'Fuck' ten times in the Blonde Ambition Tour. She was there when I realized that I was maybe moving a little too gayish in my gym class when 'Open Your Heart' came on the radio. She was there when I was walking across the Christopher Street Pier, 'Express Yourself' on my iPod--the sunset and the moon and I felt like anything was possible.

I thought of Ms. Olds' poem because it speaks to the subtext of suicide--and also of divorce--which is the fundamental question we, humanity, always carry around, and that is: "If she can't do it, how can I?"

Oh, Madonna, we love you, get up.

5 comments:

Sam J. Miller said...

i love sharon olds so much

your mom said...

Madonna created, indeed sought, her own destiny. My concern is for her children--the vulnerable victims of her calamities. Will you love them?

Jason said...

Unfortunately, I feel about as bad for Madonna as I do for the guy who scratches his Ferrari on a homeless guy's shopping cart full of cans. She has made her bed, and I'm sure there's a line miles long of young, not-as-famous, guys with accents waiting to take Guy's place lying in it.

I feel bad for people wiped out by hurricanes, polar bears, and Guy Richie Fan Club (if there is a such a thing). Call me a sennic, but Madonna has had her share of sunshine. It has to rain sometime.

Jane Kokernak said...

Are you feeling sad for Madonna, or for you?

This reminds me of when JFK, Jr. and his wife, Carolyn, went missing over Nantucket Sound and before their private plane was found. This was the summer of '99. For days, I was obsessed about them being rescued, really obsessed. I look back on that time in my own life, and wonder if I myself was wanting to be rescued.

rob said...

Oh Lee, I love you for paying tribute to Frank O'Hara, get up.