In these two hauntingly evocative poems, Elodie Rose Barnes captures the sensuous, creative spirit of night and the tumultuous relationships of Djuna Barnes and Thelma Wood, Natalie Barney and Renée Vivien.
A personal god
For Djuna Barnes and Thelma Wood
God dipped his pen
in black ink, and
this winter is made immense, full
of shadows that are darker
He wrote you
onto your body.
Lemons become a cruel parody
of the sun. Pomegranate seeds
spurt the bloody truth of summer.
The stains caress
like oil, and
desire shifts between never
and always. Entire forests grow
in my sleeplessness.
He made the words
shift and change.
Leaves dance, mocking
the sky; a reminder of seasons
that no longer exist.
Which one of us
is in the nightmare?
This is how I know my god
is no longer
“…close your eyes…let me love you. No action is stranger than that of the night. Go mad with me, for madness is the wisdom of the shadows” ~ Natalie Barney to Renée Vivien, ‘Je me souviens’.
Midnight. There is no
darkness – only white light
in vases, in jugs, on the floor, strewn
so that every tiptoe releases a burst
of fragrance, heady as incense.
Candles flicker with the cool glow
of the aurora. Petals fall
from the sky as snow.
Soft. Pure. Hiding
Come with me.
Go mad with me
for madness is the wisdom of those shadows
that we cannot yet see.
About Elodie Rose Barnes
Elodie Rose Barnes is an author and photographer. She can usually be found in Paris, daydreaming her way back to the 1920s, while her words live in places such as Reflex Press, Tiny Molecules, Crêpe & Penn, and Ellipsis Zine. Current projects include chapbooks of poetry & photography inspired by Paris, and a novel based on the life of modernist writer Djuna Barnes. To read more of Elodie’s work visit her website here or follow her on Twitter @BarnesElodie.
Read more of Elodie’s writing on Djuna Barnes and Thelma Wood in her article, ‘Creative Intimacies‘, written for The Gallery, as well as her excellent biographical entry on ‘Natalie Barney‘ for Literary Ladies Guide.
About Sara Rivers, Current Lucy Writers Illustrator
Sara Rivers is an artist who works in different media. She completed her foundation diploma at Brighton School of Art and her BA in Fine Art at Canterbury School of Art. She has also studied Art Therapy at St Albans School of Art, Hertfordshire. Sara founded the Creativity Centre, a space for outsider artists and those recovering from mental ill health, at Isledon Road (formerly Corsica Street), London. She is a founder member of the Otherside Gallery, and has created three short films, all of which were funded by the NHS. Sara is passionate about improving the services available to people experiencing mental ill health, and has led many campaigns against the continued cuts to day services in the borough of Islington. Sara is the current artist for Lucy Writers, and has designed all the artwork for the website to date. You can see more of Sara’s work via her new Instagram account @pixbysararivers.
The poetry and artwork above were commissioned under our new theme Night / Shift
For Night / Shift, we at Lucy Writers want to close our eyes to the rituals of the day and open them wide to the possibilities, sites, moves, sounds and forms visible only by night. Using Leonora Carrington’s work (see image above) as an entrance into this broad theme, we welcome writing – reviews, features, essays, creative non-fiction, (flash) fiction, poetry – and art work that explores night and its multiple shifts, liberating and otherwise, for womxn in particular.
Is night, as Carrington suggests, a feminine and feminist zone in itself, one which subverts daily codifications and rethinks day’s conditions? Or is night – also known as Nyx in Greek mythology, the maternal goddess of death, darkness, strife and sleep – still a period of discord, a stretch of time that threatens as much as it frees? For more information, see our Submissions & Contact page.