Hortense, her Gown

June 8, 2013

As Hortense cloaks herself—
butter-soft hands, beneath a nest of silk
and cotton wraps, her gown,
the same morning sunlight that shrouds
the same swelling sea, hides itself
from her intimate past, not ancient history,
mind you, but the prying eyes of yesterday,
bloodshot and ruined from their struggle to see at all, much less peer into the future,
which, clear as night can be,
begins as quickly as it can—
a fist that pounds and pounds,
as if it had no choice but to destroy
the gown that yesterday it had found so swell.

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2 Responses to “Hortense, her Gown”

  1. Anna Mark Says:

    I am interesting in this cloak and butter-soft hands that become, at the end of the poem, fists that pound and pound, and the prying eyes of yesterday that seem to destroy what they had found so swell just moments ago. Prying eyes — yes! Intimate past not ancient history also rings true here. The struggle to see (such a theme for my poems, too) much less peer into the future…which begins as quickly as can be. You’ve packed a lot into this poem for there is also the sunlight and the sea mixed in with this gown. I’d love to see such a gown as Hortense’s.

  2. extrasimile Says:

    Yes, I’d like to ‘see’ it too. It’s not exactly a description of a gown that I’ve given you here, is it?
    As to the butter hands transformed in to the pounding fists, consider the thunderstorm (like, say, Martin Johnson Heade’;s, ‘The Approaching Thunderstorm’. One of my favorite pictures.) The butter hands in the foreground, the pounding fists to follow. In the foreground, a moment of (or for) philosophy in a pre-philosophical culture—the idea is Stanley Cavell’s, though he applies it to Thoreau’s Walden—before the advent of European thought finally enters American society.(I remind you that Nietzsche subtitled his book Twilight of the Idols, ‘how to philosophize with a hammer.’)
    But I wander…
    Let’s just stick with the transformation a thunderstorm makes. I’d say I had in mind a gown like Gustav Klimt painted at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. I wonder what happened to them? Miss Hortense does get around, you know.


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