Monday, November 3, 2008

Rose White, sub rosa

To BR.

I am the dark of this dream
and you its white rose,
dazzling as the tunneled beam
to which each shade goes.
You come in silent aspect,
prophet in repose,
and your reproach I expect
before the cock crows.

Wake me on the other side,
I won't know your face.
You, no longer the white bride;
myself, I erase.
But from here before the tide,
.............I look at these cliffs
of Dover; I remember
the cliffs
of your shoulder.

I've always loved white roses. In fact, most white things: snow, clouds, paper, wolves, foxes, steamed buns, even larvae hold a certain alien attraction, but I don't know when the color graduated to something of a cipher to me. Possibly, when my name was changed. Itself a pretty traumatic event.

But even before then, I remembering being strangely, guiltily, attracted to the Brothers Grimm story Rose White and Rose Red. In it, just under the skin of the clear-faced moral, there was something vaguely profane that fascinated. Insofar as the 'profanity' is growing up, of maturation and loss of innocence etc, itself, I suppose this must be the case for instructional fairytales
generally, and now, I find it all a bit evilly insidious. But of course I wasn't conscious of it then; only that I felt somehow a little secretive about liking the story; and then, somewhat later, I found it too embarrassing to admit to liking anything premised on such totally unkosher ideals of femininity (unless it was some revisionary projection of reclamation), since it was the wintered-occlusive, quiet, and restrained Rose White that I liked and not her more outgoing sister with clearly the more grrl-power potential. So, these things fester. I fester. Etc. Evolution of a personal cipher.

And the Motherwell is called 'Signs on White.' But none of this is absolutely necessary to the poem, or necessary period.

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