Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Book of Secrets Part One

Dark blue leather binding...
gold filigree
Locked with a clasp

Her secret book
Her book written backwards
The book of her secrets
Her secret places
opened and exposed.

This is not for me
She did not offer this to me

The publisher kept this
He'd said he would send it
Deliver it for her
To a man he could not deliver
To her
To a man who'd not accept it
The tradesman
The money and goods man
Awoke and
Found himself a gentleman
found himself sought out

She wanted him to handle her
send her
reveal her and display her
to Him
Manfred, Don Juan, Child Harold
"NB" - this fictional man.
This gimping Bonaparte, this
fraud, this genius, this Frankenstein
(both maker and monster)
This modern Prometheus.
this fiery self creator

Byron never saw this gift
Never saw her
After he delivered her,
weeping, self-mutilated
back to her mother
into night
into exile from him
Her universe shrunk
to the size of his stolen portrait

Dressed as a page boy
self created
the object of desire
she offered herself
to the world, his world
she thought, at least
to the world where
he was hiding from her

She offered him
yet more disguise
another fictional disguise
she rewrote him,
and wrote herself,
wrote herself above all
hoping they might meet
in the seedy hotel
of celebrity

Calantha and Glenarvon
Caroline and Child Harold.

But he was always ahead of her
ahead of everyone
elusive, a sociable hater
a teasing, raging, secret mourner
for himself, always himself.
No one else could inhabit
his existance
It was already over-crowded
with avatars.

So, storm tossed
wet and weary
she made him a scrapbook
pasted fragments of herself
between blue covers

A commonplace book

Misery is commonplace
Loneliness is commonplace
dissapointment is universal.

Touch it
though he never did
open it
though he never did

This dead letter
this restored, pampered artefact
of failure, of unconsumated lives
this relic
of this saint among romantics
this over reaching rock chick,
broken in the Regency
a butterfly on a wheel

This Marianne Faithfull, drunk,
watching Mick Jagger on a TV show
loss married to relief

I hesitate
I'm hesitating
poised at the gateway
to a pornographic website

Because you can look,
Should you?

Look at it
Pick it up

the weight of it
the fresh paint of it
the new gum of it

someone has decided this is history

time has been taken
artistry employed
money spent

an archive housed and numbered
opened up in Edinburgh

the publisher too
his instinct was for a limited,
privileged exposure
to the scholarly and curious
the prurient and pious

and me. Me too now.

I still hesitate.

the burial horde of Byron and Byronists

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