In these two vertiginous poems by Elodie Rose Barnes, language and bodies fizz with expectation, beautifully dissolving with reckless abandon.
Meeting Brassaï In A Café At Midnight
I asked for a stormy moon above rooftops,
for leaves rustling in anticipation
on the wind and an ice crystal
bringing news of winter
but you brought me more
you brought me lights like paper lanterns
in windows high above the pavements
bodies dissolved to shadows
and shadows no more than echoes
streets tangled with whispers
and rain that falls like jazz notes
glimmering against the glass
You brought me, not stars,
but the sweat from a woman’s body
sprinkled with darkness and the sweetness
of the unknown
so this time I ask for more
I have forgotten how to recognise my own face
In the crowds outside
and I ask you for the courage to find it
and return to it
and again and again
There are shoes that, once put on, will not allow the wearer to stop dancing.
The ballerina falls in love with the composer.
The music stops.
Her steps continue.
Dancing, my body moving in my own skin, my own space.
Imaginary others dancing, their skins moving, their spaces skirting, flirting, brushing against mine.
The lonely beat shifting from one side of the room to the other.
The make-believe smell of sweat, body drenched in music.
Walking the tightrope between this world and another.
Falling, but where?
Remembering there is no such thing as love that clings to the fingers like honey.
Knowing there is no one, this time, there to catch me.
About Elodie Rose Barnes
Elodie Barnes is a writer of short things. She isn’t a fan of labels, and her writing hovers in the spaces between fiction, poem, prose poem, and creative nonfiction. Despite this, her work appears regularly in online and print journals, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She is Books Editor and Creative Writing Editor for Lucy Writers Platform, and was guest editor of their 2020 Life in Languages series exploring languages and translation. She has a somewhat obsessive interest in women writers of the early twentieth century modernist and surrealist periods, and is currently working on two creative nonfiction projects: a series of fragmentary ‘essayettes’ on the modernist writer Djuna Barnes, and a series of hybrid pieces on grief, nature and place. Find her online at elodierosebarnes.weebly.com
Feature image: detail from Brassaï’s The Kiss, 1935, fair use via Wikiart.