Claude Debussy wants to tell me something. He smiles; I paint his music and his dreams are now visible. Musical notes as paint. Symphonic sketches. The last note is D♭. The people who dwell there enter the scene, they wander idly from group to group. Stifle my thoughts. The air is in the lowest octave. A stately queen, wearing brown, sings about bells ringing in the sky. My arms are held by whirling cords connected to hers, joined as long as her voice holds the notes. At a gathering in a salon, someone murmurs behind their fingers. I lean closer to hear the half-spoken whispers. I sway to the harpist in the corner. My skirts are velvet, my necklace is made out of lapis lazuli. Chinwag. His wife shot herself in the stomach with a revolver, and the bullet lived in her flesh; she still breathes. I too have a bullet in my body. I am on the top of a mountain. There is a freshness in the air. The dawn is opal coloured.
Watching Maude Adams
Pan, stars are banished to be observers only. All they can do is wink, and nobody can decipher what they mean. It is a punishment. So, I am told. Maude. Moored. Then, untethered. Rope turns in the water like a yellow snake. Wooden boat catches the flurries. Forlorn lady lies supine. The Knight may mourn her, yet he does not notice that she longs for his battle-strong arms. The knight is a woman. Joan of Arc leads a white horse; it looks so sad. Her calves are shapely in the green tights. Gripping the balcony, leaning forward to see more. Joy as the leap across the stage takes flight: feather in the cap flutters. Skip, hop and elbows raised, and flute pressed against the lips. I took armfuls of painted scenery for you to view, but you were not there. I left my card. Never grow old. Wide sleeves decorated with leaves. I want endless curtain calls, so I can cast flowers at your feet. White-hot flames drop from the sky like rain. More!
Poet’s Note: These poems are from my next collection, the imagined memoirs of Pamela Colman Smith, who is famous for illustrating the tarot deck.
Ruth Stacey lives in Worcestershire. Her latest collection is I, Ursula (V.Press) and her latest pamphlet is Viola, the Virgin Queen (KF&S Press), a collaboration with illustrator, Desdemona McCannon. Twitter @mermaidsdrown