In memory of Mary Tyler Moore

American actress and commediene Mary Tyler Moore (as Mary Richards) sits at a desk in a scene from ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ in 1970. Photograph: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

American actress and commediene Mary Tyler Moore (as Mary Richards) sits at a desk in a scene from ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ in 1970. Photograph: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

 

As Laura Petrie, stay-at-home TV mom,
wife to Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore
refused to wear dressy skirts,
frou-frou heels, or pearls. Laura wore pants,
specifically capris because, Women don’t wear
full-skirted dresses to vacuum in.

Studio heads wrung their hands. She looked good.
She looked so good they were afraid. Afraid
housewives would be angry that Laura and/or
Mary looked too good in pants. Sponsors were concerned
about the fit of her pants, using the term, cupping under
which Mary Tyler Moore assumed meant,
My, you know, my seat –

That there was a little too much definition.
They tried to limit the cupping under
as much as possible. Mary Tyler Moore, aka Laura,
was not allowed to wear pants in more than one scene.
Three episodes it lasted until they grew lazy
and forgetful. There were no riots,

there was definitely cupping under.
Suits nodded their balding heads.
She got absolution from men everywhere.
Women breathed a sigh of relief too:
that’s what they wore at home. We all vacuum
in pants now, and then.
And then, and now
our pert bottoms sway in unison, pants
cupping under and everyone watching.

Veteran television actress Mary Tyler Moore arrives at the 50th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Sunday, Sept. 13, 1998. Photograph: Mark J Terrill
Veteran television actress Mary Tyler Moore arrives at the 50th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Sunday, Sept. 13, 1998. Photograph: Mark J Terrill

Today’s poem is from Victoria Kennefick’s debut collection Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet). Further information on victoriakennefick.com