...inspired by 'Portrait Of A Lady' by T.S. Eliot
On winter days the view outside is nebulous at best,
within, the furniture is as it always was, and I am waiting,
waiting for a glimpse of you to silence my equivocating.
Somber is my attitude, the light is dim, curtains at rest,
as dust mites dance, the clock ticks unobtrusively,
marking time, the chamber maids make ready for my guest,
and dust the tables, clean the silver, place the flowers perfectly.
You return from 'La Boheme,' affected by the tragedy,
emboldened by Puccini's art, transfiguring his sadness
to an everlasting theme of hope eternal, with no misery.
A small group of confederates who seize the meaning clearly,
examine his conceptions with a true and honest face,
only those who can conceptualize his grace.
And we are bereft of conversation.
The curtain falls between our faces,
we are left with little else to say.
Gone are common talk, and airs and graces,
walls have grown, and bars along the way.
Your friends have grown in stature, tried and true,
reflecting what you feel within your soul,
and you must follow them and share their view,
as long as it will bring you to your goal.
Friendship is a bond that can't be broken,
even though you dally with your heart,
you cannot spring the lock, that sacred token,
that keeps your deepest feelings true to art.
Your friends are pure disciples of your creed,
they will legitimize your need
to pave your way to conquer and succeed.
Within the mellow of the violins,
the sweetness of the celli and the horns,
I hear a tattoo beating all alone,
the tympani begin to pound
a loud crescendo of their own.
I listen, there is something out of tone.
With cigarettes and sherry, unconcerned,
we wander through the garden unaware,
take in the sights and pass without a care,
as if our similarities don't matter,
we give ourselves to nonsense, idle chatter.
Roses now are brightly blooming,
to your friends now you are calling.
I know not of what you speak,
I cannot fathom your delight.
You say: 'Try to understand my mission,
learn to trust in things unseen,
I must find what nature seeks
and fathom its eternal meaning.
Youth will never gather roses,
never see beyond the garden.'
I will stay for now, trapped in the cold.
Though I'll remember nature's wonders,
sunsets and the breath of spring,
feel the wind blow through my hair
and know the thrill of sunrise cresting.
We see the universe as dancing,
two such different creatures trancing,
we two will never understand
the private notions of the other,
even if we take each other's hand.
Coming close to your destruction
you will see the other side,
who says who has satisfied
requirements for a better life?
Friendship, if we could but find it,
yields the seeds of greater profit,
greater than the seeds of strife.
I now remain just as I ever was.
I shall take my morning walk,
communing with the birds and talking
to myself while reading Kafka,
glancing at the latest headlines.
Dear Stravinsky's 'Rite' is slighted,
(he'll return when ears are righted.)
When I smell a rose I'm prompted
to recall a certain lady, gifted with
a new perception, I must sadly
take exception, for the moment anyway.
The chill of morning, people yawning,
I am tired, the blush of dawning has me
feeling ill at ease, my spirit sags,
I barely reach the second floor.
'When will you return? Is Paris so much more
than you have here?' is my unanswered question.
I drag my heels to breakfast,
listless as a lazy dog, and nibble toast,
my countenance as pallid as a ghost.
A letter would be welcomed.
I shall miss you; there, I've said it.
I am your friend, are you not mine?
Tenuous and strained, two casual
acquaintances who share so little time,
we brush elbows, like strangers passing
on a platform, sharing sidelong glances,
afraid to say hello. I watch you as you go.
Others swore we would be close,
peas in a pod, familiar.
Instead there is no warmth, not yet.
Were you to try we might combine
and nibble toast together, and take
a walk, your hand in mine, and
stammer conversation 'til we knew
there was no reason e'er to rue.
I shall sit with pleasant thoughts of you.
Desperate, I ponder on your death,
scant breath expended twixt the two of us,
and loneliness an ache too harsh to mention,
pen in hand and no one to subscribe.
I'll scarce recall the softness of your skin,
or search your heart to find what lies within.
Should I be bold, or take a gentler path?
encourage you... would I incur your wrath?
If you were to die I'd never know your truth,
and I should lose the vigour of my youth.
Copyright © Keith Bickerstaffe