Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Wearer by Colette Bryce

The Wearer by Colette Bryce

Here is my necklace, blister
pearls, a single garnet
for the eye, diamond sparks,
but where am I?

This loop contained a laugh,
a pulse, a throat
that arched perhaps
in love, perhaps
disdain, that warmed
this chain and knew
itself as beautiful.

Whoosh… life! A peacock tail
can stop a clock, can shock
a room to silence.
Oh I played that game,
observed the trembling
hands of men pause
above my breasts. Exquisite,
they would murmur then.

Feast your eyes, look
for me. You'll find
my books, my silverware,
my gowns, the flute
that held my wine, the fork
that carried food
to my full lips.
The set, the props, and this,

this… my vanity, that loved
the gaze that looked
at me, that bloomed
like any peacock tail
at the soft words
of a lover, who whispered
that my teeth were pearls,
my ear a shell, mother-
of-pearl, that sapphires
were my eyes

but where am I?

This is an absolute whirlwind of a poem I love it. The constant line breaks and punctuation forces you to read it quickly and its that speed which makes that final line seem so much more shocking a stop. Like a train derailing.

My one complaint though is that I don't think the line 'but where am I' should have been in the first stanza, I think it would have been better for it to appear as a surprise at the end.

With regard to the content itself I doubt you really need me to explain the fact that it is a comment on the materialistic world in which the wearer inhabits and that the person is second to the necklace, the only way the lovers can describe her is by likening parts of her to the jewellery. Her actual physical nature is lost beneath the pearls the plaintive question of where am I? borders on rhetorical as she knows, nowhere to be found...

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