There was a once a time, in lovely old France,
where there lived a gentleman called Docteur Mourir
who dreamed in colors and took pleasure in dance.
He still lives there now, you know,
so this story is not yet so old.
He still lives in old France
(though he has taken quite cold)
in a big yellow house, up high on a hill
(looks as though it reaches to the sky—and its frills and its grace–
remind one of downy white swans, who don’t belong
in this place).
His shelves, they are stuffed with books and with maps,
wafting scent of leather and dust as sunlight shines through
high window panes upon pages of cursive inky thought.
On his maps tread inked routes to Spain and Peru,
Marco Polo’s to oriental Cathay marked with Xs in
the places Mourir has stayed.
See those pretty faces upon his shelves, see how well
he sculpts his pieces!
(He aims to portray in so many strokes the
tears which his oeuvre would shed
for those books left unopened and that
path traveled less).
See how that cheek, once so white and plaster pale,
has been tinged in gold color from the touch of his quill!
And see those dainty lips, once untainted as death,
only now they are colored, from his blush,
in rosy petals of lush—(never mind, but see
how he twists and unravels that thread, remnants
of true love remain engraved in his mind, a portrait
of lust—which is why he must blush).
Perfection found within stone faces upon these shelves of France,
faces which regard Mourir’s books, as they are prone to do,
with expressions and trances created by his fierce palette
(he can see through to throbbing hearts
and pulsing red blood, to hotness and warmth and the dizzy
in a fine lady’s head—he can see through to coldness, too,
in a man whose eyes do glimmer in the dark of the night.
He sees the kind that seeps through the body, leaving one–
blank, without the warmth in their hands, leaving them—lank).
Parleriez-vous de l’amour ou de la morte?
He used to ask all who would visit.
If they answered in the first, he’d sculpt them a silver-white horse,
whose glory poor Pegasus could not bare to face.
And if they answered in the second,
he frowned in deep thought,
gave them ebony ribbons to tie in their hair
and ivory whalebone to frame their weary hopes,
keep them from crumbling
(old lace can yellow without proper care,
he often advised).
He tried to regard all as equal,
though I must admit he seemed to favor those
pretty women who spoke of death.
Vous parliez de la morte,
murmured softly, for he was a bit of a flirt.
And when they answered fondly gently,
he would carve them a likeness,
paint them a dream (I cannot give you any more
than these, he said with pleading gray eyes,
nimble fingers tracing the lines of the canvas).
I, as a poet, cannot describe to you such paintings of dreams.
For can anyone claim to understand such fancies of the mind,
locked away by day and unleashed at night to heartbeats of
pounding fury, when boundaries cease to stand?
There was, yes, a time in lovely old France,
where bright artists like Mourir were favored to the last.
When people like he used to take to the copper towers and dance,
and all the kings and queens of France had to turn their eyes away–
when he danced.
But the towers have turned ghastly green, now,
and the sculpting has all gone awry.
And people don’t realize, when they’ve no place to run,
that Docteur Mourir’s home is still there, in its spot in the sun.
They have taken his books, now,
his pens and his quills.
He has taken to bed, now, and his head is quite ill.
He is sick—but he will not die.
He is sad—but he will not cry.
A coldness has spread within him—but still, he does not sigh.