Standing luscious with too many veils,
Necklaces, flowers, strewn over walls and floor.
I can’t see the beauty for all the ornaments.
Each glass, each table edge, intricate, inlaid.
Each seat a work of art. Where shall I sit?
So I stand in gold slippers,
A golden sash round waist and hips.
Fingers touching pearls,
Bangles jingle with each move.
I have seen too many things.
My eyes are crowded with pictures.
Then the delicate stink of the rose
Wafts through the air. Whispers to follow.
I grab one stem from the banged brass vase,
Dart through the first door I can find.
We run, the rose and I, down stairways,
Passages, courtyards, underground chambers,
Until we come to one stone room.
On the walls and floors: nothing.
Only the room itself. The stone, cool.
The soles of my feet are planted here.
I place my palms, my forehead, against the wall,
Feel blessed to be in such an empty place.
And now the images float outwards
Like a river flowing from my eyes, my mind.
I now unsee all that I have seen:
Horses walk backwards from the war,
Men take off their armour.
Love is unspoken and returns to the heart.
Feasts are uneaten, food returned to the pantry,
Flour returned to the fields.
Everything moves backward.
But the rose moves forward in time,
Where it will become more than itself.
Its petals fall to the ground,
Become pot pourri in someone’s house,
Grow the colour of wine, of blood,
Blacken, and turn to dust.
The dust lifts into the air, sails through the window,
Is carried by the wind out to sea.
It coats the planks of a merchant ship,
And gives a blessing to the journey,
Becomes the spark of the sailor’s dream at night,
And flowers there into a truer rose.
And I take off my many veils.
Not married. Not schooled.
Not taught the ways of walking and bowing.
I become once more a creature of the first light,
I roam through grass and wild flowers.
My eyes restore themselves,
Change from brown to blue
Then close. An end to all the pictures.
Just the cool stone now.
I drink one glass of water and leave.
Where do I go now? I can go anywhere.