The Death of Marilyn Monroe

This poem, by Sharon Olds, on the surface speaks about the events that occur after the death of Marilyn Monroe. The mood of the poem is very depressing as the diction is very heavy-hearted, with words and phrases like “cold”, “heavy as iron”, “closed”, “caught”, “flattened”, lend themselves to creating a very apt depiction of death.
The poem interestingly revolves around the men, the “ambulance men” who carried Monroe’s body “down the steps”. How they try and continue with their daily routine “as they always did”, but found themselves traumatized such that they could not even meet each others’ eyes even when they went out for their regular round of drinks. As though implying the impact of such a prominent person’s death.
The next stanza is double spaced before it is continued, giving the impression that the third stanza takes place some time after the incident. It begins with “Their lives took a turn”, showing that even after some time, the death of Monroe still had a significant impact on their lives—“nightmares, strange pains, impotence, depression”. These symptoms are more an indication of psychological and physical illness rather than simply the trauma of death. The pain of losing a star like Marilyn Monroe did not ebb over time, but instead escalated. The trauma increased from not being able to meet each others’ eyes, to inability to do daily activities, from their vocations, “One did not like his work”, to being able to love one’s own family the same way, “his wife looked different, his kids. Even death seemed different to him—a place where she would be waiting.” This last line in the third stanza especially, the man seems to be deeply enamoured with Marilyn Monroe even in her passing, expressing some form of longing for death, as there would be where she would be waiting.
The third stanza, despite talking about how the men’s lives were turned topsy-turvy by the death of such a star, seems to be a hint by the poet, as to the magnitude as to which...