Faded Silk

She rose up, and walked, with a tear-stained face toward the cabinet. She lent against it, closing her eyes and letting out long, quavering breaths. Then she ceased to lean, and stood, trembling, while she pulled out a drawer of the cabinet. She reached in, and drew it out, springs of thyme and other herbs falling away as she did so. It was a dress – long and silken, of colours that had clearly once been bright and shimmering – changing in the different lights from green to turquoise to blue – but now it was very faded. She smoothed the folds of silk and felt the gown, reverently, against her cheek. Then she took off her white nightgown, and, as though indulging in a great pleasure, slipped into the faded gown. It was of a soft silk balmy on the skin, and it fitted her perfectly – or almost perfectly – it was perhaps a shade small. The sleeves made her slender arms and waist seem slenderer still, and it hung down in graceful waves from the latter.

She took the band off her soft dark hair so it fell about her, and stepped out into the light of the early morning. The air was cool and dewy, and balmy as the silk of the gown, and her misery was soothed a little by its calmness.

The dew was still upon the shrubs – and she shook some drops onto her hand – dipped a finger in it and spread it, sparingly, upon her face as though it was some rich perfume. She thought of the countless mornings when, as a child, she had risen at about this time or earlier, and come into the garden to bathe her face in the dew and gain beauty for the coming year. She considered how little beauty would do for her now – and thought her child-self foolish in wanting to attain it. Beauty was a poisonous thing – she knew that now. Again she sighed – and little stronger than she had done earlier. Perhaps she would not do what she had come out to do – or not yet.

 

This entry was inspired by the Tennyson poem, Enid – especially the lines;

‘Then she bethought her of a faded silk,

A faded mantle and a faded veil,

And moving toward cedarn cabinet,

Wherein she kept them folded reverently,

With springs of Summer laid between the folds,

She took them, and array’d herself therein,

Remembering when first he came on her,

Dress in that dress, and how he loved her in it … ‘

 

– and also a detail of a picture in my copy of the book.

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Breaking Sorrow 

 

She sat, her legs tucked under her, wrapping her cream-coloured cashmere blanket tightly about her. The trees branched over her, dark in the shadows, but glinting white with frost when a beam of moonlight fell from behind the many enclosing clouds. Tears, inside which seemed to lie worlds – worlds of silver and dark reflected from the real world, but looking different when they lay in those tiny shining drops, fell from behind her closed eye-lids, pale as the frost. Her hair fell in soft waves of shadow about her shoulders and trailed down her back. She sobbed – quietly, but audibly because of the softness all about. She idly picked up a pebble from the ground, and threw it, bitterly, into the pond or small lake the banks of which she was sitting upon. The surface of the water was stilled by shining ice, cold and brittle as the girl’s heart – it cracked into pieces, with a sharp sound that echoed round the clearing and came back to her again. ‘Good, you are broken.’ said the girl ‘Like me.’ she added, softly, lying her head upon the ground with the shivers running through her and looking up at the sky. Clouds hid the moon, and most of the stars likewise – the sky was an abyss of darkness – rarely broken up by any beam of light. She closed her eyes once more, and once more, cried.

The girl awoke to a peculiar yet familiar feeling of – happiness. She opened her eyes – the sunlight was dancing on a surface of  water rippled by a gentle breeze. The air was chill and bracing, but clear. A swan, with soft, pure plumage of a far happier white than the night’s silver frost, by now all gone from the trees, glowed in the brightness. Brightness. Brightness was all around, it filled her soul, her heart – nature’s beauty, nature’s joy – it can put happiness into those most forlorn, most forgotten. She looked about her at the dancing sunlight, at the few pale green leaves that had come on the bare branches of the trees, through which the light shined like stain glass. She had sensed it was the right thing to do, to go out on that night, and to stay there till morning. She was proved right. 

 

 

 

Ripples

Ripples

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It is morning. The golden sunshine that creeps through the shadowy realms of forest to fall upon the slow-moving waters of the river is beginning to gain warmth – but as yet the air retains the cold-crispness of the early day. Down the clear-water swims a swan, with white plumage smoothed down sleekly, and neck arched gracefully over the water. A serenity, a grace, a strange sadness is in its movements – and the way the dark eyes look at you seems as if the swan has been interrupted in some sad reflection, and is reproachful. But it breaks reflections itself – it breaks the reflection in the water – and causes ripples to split in pieces the sweet picture of the elms, standing straight and tall, and the green-grey willows, dipping their leaves in the water. So we can break the sweet pictures in each other’s heads.

For there are two kinds of reflections – those in the water, and those in our imagination – but in many ways they are similar to each other.

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