Wooden Mary meets Veronica Franco at Venice Marco Polo Airport. A Poem by Marie Marshall.

 
 
 

Somewhere in that departure lounge I know as my dreams,
a long, bizarre night that seems to contain oblique sunlight
 
– yes, and in the club lounge shived off by Vaseline glass
and by a whispering door, almost ordered with
Scandinavian furniture and black leather, long-away
framed posters of sixties chic, poseurs picked for
their mohair hipsterness and their armcandy chicks –
 
Veronica Franco’s ghost comes to me, a Versace dress, black,
Gucci shoes and matching clutchbag more Italian than the Italians,
more Venetian than the Venetians, still standing out from
the upholstery which is damned for its pretentions, her glory
piled like Audrey Hepburn’s, her neck with its unrecognizable scent
in a double-worship of pearls, the conversation of her prim, sheer legs,
her gloves, her slender Rolex worn like it was a Contessa’s heirloom,
and when she sits her lower hem is inch-perfect at her knees, her wrist
bent to make a show of checking the timepiece,
and now comes her almost-plaintive
Why do you call me?

Because I love you,
I say, and that’s the truth, or at least it’s mine;
smart-alecks tell you there’s not one truth, but unique truths
for each of us, filtered like dirty water through a bed of sand
and appearing a pure, cold spring to slake our egos; mine, though,
to me, is as clear as anything that ever bent a stick, and so it stings,
chokes when she replies
So you always say

So you always say, and I allow it, she says, I have even kissed you as deep
as the heave-ho man’s lead that sounds the sea-bottom, I have been as close,
as near, as true, as long, as loving, as intimate as any lover, Wooden Mary;
I have been your all-night and your good-night at times, and your good-times,

she says; I have been, she says, tracing her glove-fingers from
her pearl hawser to valley the cloth in the centre of her figure,
taking my eyes with them across her geography,
mother to your infant hunger.

She says more, volumes more, and though each word is
an ad hoc prison shank opening bloody mouths in me, I smile
to hear them because they are the words of my scripture, and
in the midst of them she breaks – she does! she does! – and puts
a hand on mine and rests her forehead on my shoulder, weary,
overdone with denial; she crosses her legs, so casual in defeat,
and says one phrase more
Why do you make me haunt you?

That’s the whole of it. Others don’t walk, we walk in ourselves,
we clothe our own ghosts.

Her flight is called, Los Angeles or Seoul; I walk her to the door
and watch the deliberation of her elegant heels progress
into the sunlight, until she is only a flicker.

 
Marie Marshall

Marie Marshall is an Anglo-Scottish author, poet and editor. Her first collection of poems, Naked in the Sea, was published in 2010 and reviewed in Sonnetto Poesia that same year, and her second collection, I am not a fish, in 2013. Since 2005 she has published over two hundred poems, mainly in magazines and anthologies, but the most extraordinary places in which a poem of hers has appeared include on the wall of a café in Wales, and etched into an African drum at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Her first novel, Lupa, was published in 2012. She is well-known in Scotland for her macabre short stories. Her web site can be found at mairibheag.com. Of writing poetry and sonnets she says, “I did not start writing until 2004, so I am very much a twenty-first century writer. I write anything, any kind of poetry that I feel the urge to tackle ― sonnets included.”

 
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