Friday, June 3, 2011

Carte Blanche

Carte Blanche

December and white roses~~by the armful they come.
Pale pleated heads; one word and they fall,
laid on pillows lithely blushed pink,
soft petals fragrant like freesia or lilies.
I am calling your name,
longing for your snowy lawn,
the crisp collar undone,
the cuff that holds your hand
gently grazes the luster of my brow.
Slipping silk down my cheek.
you breathe lotus and peony
with undertones of amber,
sweetmeats and halwa
from the street stalls of Constantinople.

But we are ghosts at sunset,
blue-veined gauze, fragile and easily torn;
floating fading promises tumbled to the ruins,
the old wood and boulders of Sope Creek,
crashing to the Chattahoochee
rimmed with hoarfrost,
but still flowing turbid & broad.
And there we loose our souls,
let go the bouquet of osmanthus
and spider mums that spin and splay
to ever darker gray eddies and disappear
in distant mists.


  1. I reposted this entry after seeing today's post here: A Year with Rilke: White Roses

    I wrote this in December 2007 after my mother's death in September as I looked at Van Gogh's White Roses above me on my wall calender.
    I took my mother flowers every couple of days during her hospice stay. I put cream-colored floribunda roses in the mix, and, inevitably, one blossom would fall off on the car ride. I felt it was my as yet unmet beloved. I would kiss the rose and put it on my pillow when I slept over at hospice care.

  2. Almost can't bear the beauty here, Miss Jane. You. Your story, your mom's hospice days, your flowers, the fallen roses, your longing. And the poem. Just know that its riches meet me, reach into me, through me, and pull up every longing for beauty I don't yet know (all while listening to Brendan's recommendation in his music list at sync: "As Witchita Falls, So Falls Witchia," Pat Matheny Group.

  3. I am so glad you did repost this, Miss Jane, as otherwise I would have missed this heartbreakingly beautiful poem and your enticing blog. Brendan (and Vincent in a way) sent me this way via the A Year With Rilke blog. Beautiful to be here.

  4. What they said about this tender, heart-rendingly beautiful elegy to life and love lost in a bouquet. What Rilke meant, you achieved here. And with so much more delicate pathos. I remember when your mother died: so much of the past gathers in those moments and what we carry on has a weight and dimension to it even if it's a loss, a lacunae, a hole. And we thought it was wholeness that was promised, and age promises a certain holiness of holes, a ghostly ritual structure that's somehow like vanished Woodhenge. Sorry to go on. U rock. - Brendan

  5. Thank you all for your comments.
    More back-story:

    As I re-read this, I was struck by the inclusion of Sope Creek and the Chattahoochee River--places that spoke to me in my Atlanta years ('92-'98), and then I recalled why I used them. For all the darkness that clouded the 13 year hole of a relationship I was in at the time, that man did expose me to a lot of art, most of it of the avant-garde jazz related variety (along with German Art Films) and I can be grateful for that. One such event was "River" a dance performance piece done in the Chattahoochee River at sunset.
    River Eiko & Koma
    There were two beautiful lovers draped in gauze and floating in the darkening waters, sometimes caught on driftwood, sometimes caught in each others arms, sometimes let go. Just them and a small crowd watching from the shore. It hangs in my memory.

  6. A very nice way to remember your mother

  7. it seems we are ghosts at sunrise as well. are we born solid or is that an illusion? are we dense upon entry, forever becoming lighter? it seems to me we are both. grief takes part of us away on a breeze and yet makes us feel heavier. how are we both, i wonder. how are we both?

    your poem is beautiful, your language highly recognizable as your own, like a brooch to a fine sweater, one which never shows wear. your memories sweet and heavy. your living - something wondrous. that you have not been recognized and loved as i see you should be is a surprise and a great loss for that someone you have imagined here.


  8. Ruth,
    That would be an interesting combination. I recall the melody mostly being lovely, but with a melancholic cast and then underscored with occasional dark threatening bass rumblings.

  9. Thank you, Erin.

    "for that someone you have imagined here."
    It was a long and sometimes difficult courtship (doesn't that sound like a gestation?) and perhaps that imagining was part of the breaking down. We met online and didn't meet in person for two years. I had plenty of time to make up my lover in lots of dreamy poems. I loved the courtship. I loved the slow learning of one another, but when we met . . . .
    Oh, I don't think I can go into it all here. Suffice to say that there was loss on both sides. I think he loved and loves me, and I, he, but we can't BE together. My mind knows that, but my heart is still in the process of letting go, unclasping . . . .

    Ruth wrote that we were born complete--wings and all, encased in our tight seed pods. Born to fly and crash and burn and fly and
    . . . .

  10. Beautiful, exquisite, a dream--- your words are a zephyr softly stroking the reader.