Autumn WTC #5 Monuments and Mutability: Written in Soap

Soap

Foolish, foolish  girl  –  I thought I was granite,  uncharmed,

immune to jazz by moonlight,  the subtle flirtations of the

night tugging soft souls down with Cristal or undercurrents so

tight it was useless to struggle. The hour, the hour, the hour

was late…. and I was doe-eyed, melting into the treacle of his

voice Let there be you, let there be me. Let there be oysters

under the sea…. An arc of light around him, spot lit as though

he’d risen from the deep of an eclipse or the Mariana Trench.

And if we danced or kissed or left the words that lovers

whisper in each other’s ears, I will not say, for there are always

wives or babies somewhere. But I remember these – bouquets

bright as a bird of paradise delivered to my home – tulips,

orchids, flowers enough for a wedding or a death. Each year his

gift arrives a week before Christmas, each year a different

fragrance – for all the gardens of this world and the past –

Chateau de Camerolles, Eden, Versaille, Babylon are not

exhausted. He sends me wild woods and orchards – bluebell,

lavender, pomegranate, apple; creams and lotions, Shea

butter; night scented jasmine, lily of the valley, orange blossom

or soaps made from Rosa Centifolia, the hundred petals rising

in a steamy vapour, gentle as a summer rose garden, or his lips

warm on my shoulder as I ease back into the bath. Those

stumbling words that told you what my heart meant…. Each

year these foolish, foolish things remind me again.

Jacqueline Smith

My grandmother

I’d like to make a statue to my grandmother –
Beatrice Bance.
I’d choose a core of cast iron,
Perhaps an old bedstead with all the springs pointing out.
On it I would hang a scrim and soft plaster.
I’d form the soft round curves of my grandmother,
Smooth soft flesh released from corsets,
Big bosomed, big bottomed.
I wouldn’t emphasise her large round ankles
Or her arm which was partly disabled,
But I’d put in the two overlarge ear piercings,
Made, as a dare, with a cork and a red hot needle.
I’d show her smiling, with those perfect false teeth
Which she got when aged twenty five.
Her permed brown hair would be just growing out
With soft curls framing her face.
She’d be holding a bunch of violets
To commemorate her first child who died,
But she’d be looking forward, head aloft,
With one foot forward,
She’d look ready for anything,
And I’d place her, life-size on a granite plinth
Outside the grocer’s shop, which she bought in Hornchurch,
At the age of 58.
The reason she bought the shop was me,
Though she never said so.
My grandfather was getting old and unable to work,
She was going to provide for my future.
She was resolute.  She was kind.
She paid me to work in the shop on Saturdays,
But frequently gave me the afternoon off
With a £1 in my pocket, to spend just anyhow.
I should have made a statue to her then,
When I was eighteen,
But I didn’t understand the sacrifices she’d made,
The life foregone, the pleasures untasted.
I’d like to make a statue to her now,
And stand it outside that small parade of shops.
She’d be unmissable, a source of pleasure to all who saw her,
A source of pride and inspiration to all who knew her.
I’d like to make a statue to my grandmother.
I’ll do it in words.

Janet Evans 26/11/12

The monument

Would you make me a statue if I were dead and gone?

What would I be there for? Being not good, not bad, not great?

And what would you make me wear? Would I be then, or now? Or later?

Would you make me into petals of humanity and express them through a waxy enfleurage? Or coax my soul by steam extraction?

You could add my scent to soap, my chocolate fat now blended with my ashes.

Once hard pressed, but now hard milled.

Would you have me chypre or fougėre? Or would you have me green, or floral?

Would you morph me into Marilyn and scent me like Chanel?

Naked, no longer present. Shrouded not sheeted.

Would my image bear the corners and crevices of a scented past?

Caron Nocturnes . Guerlain Chamade?  Or Miss Dior?

Would you add me notes of oakmoss, cedar? A little sandalwood, perhaps?

And lay my statue on a plinth of roses?

Or would you build me like a castle on the beach, sculpt me and compact me from the progression of the waves?

Salt and seaweed for my scent, a fishy whiff of mussels and of barnacles on rocks.

Or would you drain my blood and build me thus,

A Mark Quinn tribute to a new constructed life?

The blood that once was life now sealed and chilled, less melting would destroy its form.

Would I then be viscous, visceral and scented by the battles of our former life?

Iron-scented, rich with notes of cuts on knees, of childbirth, menstruation and transfusion?

Or might I be melded in mud by earth and dirt, my face glimpsed slightly in the mud banks of our swollen rivers

My new form traveled by the breath of effluent, the raw reminder of our former selves, a last trace of jasmine in its path?

Astrid Sutton

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