portion of the artwork for Sean Patrick Mulroy's poetry
Sean Patrick Mulroy

after a YouTube clip capturing Brittany Murphy’s last red carpet appearance, at the Hollywood premiere of Across the Hall. The video, which featured the actress looking dazed and emaciated, sparked controversy regarding the cause of her death just two weeks later, at age 32.

the paparazzi say your name as if
they’re praying for the pretty virgin girl
laid on the altar as the knife is raised.
they say your name as if they’re summoning
some other creature that you might have been:
the sassy figure 8, sexy pin-up
iconic young celebrity, or just—
woman with a body. woman with breasts.
they say your name, you freeze. a skeletal
white deer caught stranded in a midnight road,
a clockwork chinadoll long-winding down
the gears behind your eyes, hard grinding to
a halt. the grid of your face flickers, like
a failing neon sign. your posture shifts

and there you are, your pale charisma as
it slowly surfaces like venus from
the ice cold lake of your translucent skin,
with smile smooth as an expensive lipstick,
you’re suddenly radiant, the shouting
shutter click and beep of digital lens,
the cameramen, they are your friends tonight,
and every one of them is calling out
you’re beautiful! you’re beautiful! though you
are frail, a wicker girl swaying in the wind
before the torch, a white star wreathed in light.
they're shouting, hey Brittany, you’re beautiful!
even though you look like you’re just moments
from your death, because you are, and you are.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 36 | Spring 2012