Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The First Duchess


She has loved as a harlot, this young man
not of her husband's form, but roams
these grounds as a lady, floating on the grace
of her station, turning from the reflection
of her sins--- until now. This meeting was called
by her, a face bearing such beautiful distress....

An excerpt From the playwright's diary, 1587


(At a country manor house)

Still, I shadow these halls
in a slip of bone.
Its silk-covered hoops
catch the light and a moth's attention.

Even insects know
when the dead draw close
craving to clarify
what time has distorted.

Marlowe made a Duchess mourn
so passionately with his pen.
Chamber sticks burned (all night)
with feverish gleam --- as he dramatized
this pale woman.

Yet , she was not borne
of his mind or his heart scattering
ashes on the page.

She was my character freed,
spoken in soft confession
to a him, a loyal friend. He stood there
memorizing how grief
veiled my face in tears.

His hand touched my hair.
Some blossoms fell. And he asked,

Why wear a maiden's bloom
when you now weep as a woman
deserted by your lover?

My throat felt dry. A long swallow
and then an answer --

I blot my sin, the scent of his kiss
with these, fair pleiades of jasmine.

The playwright stayed silent.
Then he turned away pilfering
those lines, stashing them deep
in the pouch of his jaw.

Something he would recite
on his way home, and actors
on a round stage. Something I would read
later on, sitting by the rushlight.

The beautiful painting is by Hungarian artist, Casaba Markus,

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