VERY OLD ROSES
Slow, heavy Dante Gabriel contemplates his marmoset's
skeleton, anecdote making of carelessness a vector
the rooms plush or tastefully papered, doors crafted
out of pleasant woods. His sister thinks charily of goblins.
All know how to draw. Little May's mock-Tudor jewelry
looks well on all their necks, the stones always mixed,
as if Cellini pendant from an earlobe, chandeliers for the neck.
Hectic they were, and dreamed -- and painted -- repose, the
desirable damozel's desire an object of desire, incestuous
as jewels, their mouths' corners peculiar, not a completion
of the lips as shape, more like the corners of eyes, or curtains.
In fact the whole Pre-Raphaelite gabble settles into furniture,
did so in chests with burned-in lines, with tints and shellac
(Puvis at a boys' camp), flesh of the loved one textured like brocade.
Their clothes were cut as if they were sofas, slippered Rossetti reclining
on his couch, his little chin beard a tassel devolves to decor. Yet in
their heads heavy rhythms, sounds, cut-glass decanters we no longer need
were fractured at the time, like fingerprints on Waterford. The women weren't china,
didn't shatter. We know they rot, Christina with her fine bones in a box
well made as doors to sitting rooms, ribs and teeth dessicate as marmoset's.
for Jeffrey Lanners
Copyright 1997 by Gerald Burns