Annie Blake

THE LADY OF SHALOTT

‘… With a steady stony glance—Like some bold seer in a trance, Beholding all his own mischance, Mute, with a glassy countenance— She look’d down to Camelot. It was the closing of the day: She loos’d the chain, and down she lay; The broad stream bore her far away, The Lady of Shalott…’

-The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

 

 

the sun shining / a torch in the black lake / my body of duck / upended in a lake / reeds like jagged rocks /

 

there is a web of electricity for the trams to run on the tracks / a net over a valley or a village / intersections of stars / gold split pins to make puppet limbs moveable / human-made lights / the only light i can see / brass door knocker and an existence through the space of threads / the vastness / between the spoke of a wheel / its busy crank of the turn / trees of the valley / a blaze and its smoke / a beam in the dark /

 

the cliff faces / torn rock / their long eroded beards / the cheeks gaunt and the mouth agape in agony / the grass is green / hair like the nests of birds / even if they wither and die on the winds / because it’s higher there up on the hill / its filigree lips / drawer pulls / open the hollows of a cliff / of his head / ears of a cow / it’s always better to save a child / it’s a rule in my house to feed the youngest first /

 

snake charmer / snake rising from the body-bowl / palomino horse with his cotton mane / his wire claws and wine stained neck / i float upon a bush as black and coarse as pubic hair / in the middle of the desert / i am grains of sand / i wear a bridle and a white dress /

 

the bardo thodol was a message to tell the dead they are now dead / a mountain blows black smoke out of its waist like a trumpet blows out noise / i used to pay the priest ten dollars to release a soul from purgatory /

 

the bird walks across her clavicle / infinite bridge / it feeds out of the woman’s glenohumeral joint and its connective language / head rotating in an upside down cup / i have broken so many cups / when i was young i had to have a shoulder reconstruction because every time i tried to swim butterfly my shoulder would dislocate / the man walks far to find her neck / but sometimes a woman will never be found / her throat a stone / papyrus and her chest engraved with egyptian hieroglyphs / her eyelid thick and stable /

 

as a family we eat the last supper there / her tongue calcifies and turns itself into a curly gastropod fossil / her hair is emerald green / lizard tails then legs / the black smoke / how the light of the sky quickly molds itself into a coffin / night in a body / that sets inside like a screw between the rounds of its thread / the sun is in the sky / the bridge is made of iron / it runs parallel with the train under the sun / most people only notice the train / trump’s train of thought / and the lower instincts / 

 

a man rolls a gold ball / chin-tan and the golden flower / along her shoulder / he finds an ancient cleansing bath inside her body / i step down her ribs / deep stairs with an iron rail and find the wrinkled eyes of fledglings / tufted faces / sleeping on the whites of her hip / my father was in her womb / which was like an oven or a cauldron / the raven spread its wings over it like a lid / i was afraid to watch him boil /

 

i collect dead birds from the road / i don’t find mosaic tiles beautiful anymore / the pendulum and the mailbox are broken / the elevator is stuck / i arrange the bodies on the sand / wait and watch how the water / white as doves / come to ingrain them with sand /

 

i was in a hallway / infant birds gather to make her feet / pulse / her hair is tied with a rose / thorn buttons and a white lace dress /

 

i touched a man’s body and a door opened by itself / he took out a large glass from the cupboard / he threw it to the floor / shards / because they can never reconstruct to make the glass / our marriage is irrevocable and he can’t believe how i can recall / every single word he has ever spoken /

 

there is a sad story associated with a grand piano / it was very antique and a little boy or girl / even though they grew / had to be careful not to grow out of the constraints of the old mother / i used to find her ghost rocking in a chair / most people don’t know that you can collect meals from a piano if you learn to play the notes / and even though i wanted to play the piano / i was also afraid of the ghost /

 

sometimes old women can act like children / old mother hubbard / but her pantry was bare / there was an old woman who lived in a shoe / she had so many children she did not know what to do1. / there was an old woman who hung out her washing on a string like my pre-school daughter does / neurasthenia / oneiromancy /

 

there was a wind building in the air / thick and spiraling like a soft serve / my daughter shows me a crescent moon and how the light emanates into a cross / there was a young woman who ate a cornfield every morning / she glowed and ran in the field /

 

when we walk far enough there are no tracks left on the road / not even a narrow path / the forest has a space barely wide enough for / not for my body /

 

so i made it a point to take note of all the weather patterns and all my moods / crime mapping and analysis / i take out photos of my past / attach strings to them so they look like reins / i was cage with a bird / there was a broken cup and a bent fork /

 

the lady of shalott / did she know that shadows are more real than the colors of camelot / that the knight was herself / and that the shining armor that protected her was the curse / barka and baraka / how it sails wide even if it’s small / i had to pick up forks and knives from the roof of the hull / three candles and crucifix / a lantern so obvious / but i keep thinking of something too far ahead / pre-raphaelite brotherhood / i concur that nature must be lived /

 

white as an obstetrician and her surgeons / they casually talk about how we can expect a lifespan of a hundred years in the near future because they see how white my skin is /

they ask me if i would like to say anything / i tell them they look very clinical / they laugh / but i’m highly strung because they must have instructed my husband to leave as i was being injected with a needle in my back / they take care to smile with their lips and say he won’t be long now / i ask him i want the warm of his palm on my face / i close my eyes /

 

and i’m floating on the sea / the leaves are falling from the sky /                 the sun is all over me /

 

  1. ‘There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe’ from The Little Mother Goose (1912)

 

 

 

 

Annie Blake is an Australian writer and divergent thinker. She is a wife and mother of five children. She started school as an EAL student and was raised and continues to live in a multicultural and industrial location in the West of Melbourne. Her research aims to exfoliate branches of psychoanalysis and metaphysics. She is currently focusing on in medias res and art house writing. She enjoys semiotics and exploring the surreal and phantasmagorical nature of unconscious material. Her work is best understood when interpreting them like dreams. She is a member of the C.G. Jung Society of Melbourne. You can visit her on annieblakethegatherer.blogspot.com.au and on facebook.