Canon-fodder

 

            So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

            And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

            Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.”

 

Her entrance is quiet, echoing the

Soft sounds of the sea as she arrives on the shore

Born of foam, of roses, of myrtle — of Caelus …

 

“Carried o’er the sea a long time,

And white foam arose from the immortal flesh;

With it a girl grew”

 

As an afterthought of sorts; a mere consequence of castration

As failed masculinity gives way to potent femininity

Through preserving her modesty just so

“Take this shawl, dear,

And do cover your breasts with your hands,

Yes, just like that,” whispers Botticelli,

With greying fingers ghosting across her wet body

Tracing every curve, each strand of hair

Each piece becoming the sum of a celestial whole

As she enters the canon as the Object.

 

Alas, Sapphic stanzas have already summoned Her

Begged Her back to the earth’s black bosom,

And She returns to the darkness.

 

And so they must whisper, for the night has arisen

And soon Her skin will sink back,

Back into the sea-foam

And their tongues must not speak a word of it, for they mustn’t be seen here

So they sing their songs of love in darkness

Amongst the clattering clamour of the great dark sea and the far too many of those like them who have perished in the sparkling nonsense of moonlight.

But they sit on roses, with thorns tickling at their feet,

With the stems caught between their toes and so they bruise them like knees

And the water heats up — Jupiter has a temperament —

And no longer does it melt beneath the surface and simmer and sliver across Her skin

But instead it scratches and screams and claws at her flesh — takes her breast

In its hand;

Dares Sapphic desires to disappear,

Causes thorns to grow from the red-scathed skin

That twist and scare you from behind…

Only to sink back into the sea-foam, back to Olympia,

And so She disappears

And the poetess awaits her Muse once more, crying:

 

“Sweet mother, I cannot weave –

slender Venus has overcome me

with longing for a girl.”

 

As Venus spins, spins backwards, deeper into the sea.

 

And so Petrarch descends, summons his Muse:

Bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh, woman

Designed for him.

 

La aura, Laura, too holy to paint,

Unreachable — The ardent lover croons

Of gold, of gaze, of comfort, of despair,

His goddess, his contempt for those who dare

Speak of whom he daren’t even whisper

Bar lusty vagueness, bright eyes, potent stare.

Desire flutters, mutters, stumbles, simpers,

Simmers in unchecked metaphors and weeps:

 

“I find no peace, and yet I make no war:

and fear, and hope: and burn, and I am ice.”

 

And perhaps Shakespeare will thaw the frost,

Will court his women well

Draw a feather from his sword;

Bleed into the quill.

 

He’ll claim Orsino’s grave surfeit,

Such that his appetite

For love “may sicken and so die” and that

Hamlet’s forty thousand hearts beat

With all their quantity of love…

 

And over Shakespeare presides Elizabeth

— Video et taceo —

He writes to her — for her —

For her stage, her England,

The one that bears her hand in marriage…

But she has no lover — She is The Virgin Queen:

She strikes the Canon with a match

Which burns with sharp flames that rival her hair

And leave her face ashy, eyes stony,

Glaring in the light as the choir murmurs

Gloriana,

Gloriana,

Gloriana:

That greatest Glorious Queen of Faerie lond…

Gloriana,

Gloriana,

Gloriana…

“So summon the witch — Summon the bitch,

Bring her to her knees,” they cry.

Prick the skin and find the mark

Make her swim — Then watch her sink, watch her

Speak of spells, spells — Watch her learn to spell,

Twisting the words at her fingertips into long strands

Of poetry — Words that simmer, simmer,

Rattle and hum

Bubble … Double, double toil and trouble as she sinks

Beneath the surface.

 

Duchess, Duchess, Lady o’Mine,

Dare I speak against will of thine?

Dare I summon candle-light;

Dare I make thou stay?

Flicker the shine across the wall

Let wax weep the cradle of its fawn

Amongst ceramic skin and bone of fine

Please do sit, O Lady o’Mine.

We must stage an intervention,

Dare’st I say

With heavy heart and solemn eye

You have…

A womb that wanders.

It is Freud, you see,

He speaks of displaced uterus,

Of the free-floating subconscious,

The “mind within the mind”.

And so we must treat you,

Must psycho-analyse,

It’s very new, you see, my dear,

He knows what I must provide.

Let us go to bed my dear,

Speak of something else,

Hysteria mustn’t cause us trouble —

Intercourse is known to help.

 

And with a “Pop!”, a “Boom!” — A Pollock-like explosion,

Out of the Modern treachery, the greyish weary eyes

From the fog emerges —

The women from the wives.

Husbands turn the gas marks up

And in goes the head as the meter ticks on.

 

For this is the empty hum

Of the virgin-prostitute

The perverse-angel

The two-faced sinister and saintly woman

Of the woman from whom came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die…

For how can one live as an oxymoron?

And amongst these binaries lies the… Lies the…

 

No! We are not of rib, tongue, wandering wombs, penis envy or afterthought!

Not taken from man, not a consequence of castration —

Not sliced from Caelus, nor birthed of sea-foam and pretty pink shells,

We are instead standing on the shoulders of our mothers,

Birthed by our mothers, taught to speak by our mothers,

And it is only in mythology that woman comes from man

And only in yellowed pages that our voices are silenced

But the world is a big white sheet and our toes poke tentatively out of the bottom…

And it is now that —

 

That interruption is no more

and Lady Lazarus will rise!