"Portrait of Iulia Hasdeu" by Diogene Ulyssee Napoleon Maillart (1840-1926)
The pentalingual author of "Within Paravent Walls", fin de siècle and décadence enthusiast, Laura Gentile, shares some of her blog with us each week.
My eyes opened and closed in Bucharest.
Eighteen years lie in-between.
Death travels across the pages of my poetry.
The echoes entangled between Romanian and French.
Words exited my body hand in hand with time.
I clung to nature evergrowing, the moving images of life terrestrial.
They could never see it coming, what had attached itselt to me, their prodigy.
I had envisioned my life, my spirit, in accomplishments, fruits, at the Sorbonne,
But Paris embalmed me with tubercular praise and sealed my fate.
I looked up to my health evaporating and lifted my folded hands.
Through France my will wandered,
Across Italy I stumbled,
Toward Switzerland I rushed to get rid of my corporeal burden.
But I landed in the flabby arms of Bucharest awaiting me, my homecoming.
And as I learned how to let myself go, he held on to me and wrestled with my death.
As my last crippled breath abandoned my body, my father believed in my life.
He looked at my dry mouth and heard my voice.
He held my hand and envisioned my handwriting.
He gazed upon my demure and painless face and entered into a dialogue, alone.
He put his hand on my chest to find my heart and denied death
His daughter’s vital organ, his own breath had awoken every one of my cells,
Too young to degenerate, too young to be alive no more.
He evoked my open eyes and suppressed my silence, his monologue.
His hands screaming from grief and loss that this was not the end of me.
I arose in every room, in his mind, every mirror, he wouldn’t let me go and rest.
He believed in my speech, my imagination, my spirit everlasting
And constructed a castle memorial, for my soul to thrive against tight walls.
He nourished it with objects of mine, dolls, books and a piano.
I became a revitalised thought, unnatural, an embodied fear, folklore, a haunted house.
His heartache emprisoned me against his will and knowledge.
My father became obsessed with my death or was it truly my life
That I had not lived?
He doomed me onto dead walls, a library where nothing moves,
A room with holes, a portraiture of me, religious companions,
Barred windows, a beloved mausoleum, and seeks me during séances.
Oh, father of mine, what kind of words would have released you from this curse?
What could I have said to you to not give birth to such an outburst of irreparable grief?
You buried us both in that castle in unhealthy ways.
My body in Bucharest, my spirit in Câmpina, irrevocable.
You say that I guide you, you say that I reveal plans to you.
Father, I fell asleep in safety, I drifted away, and I felt my mortality dissolve.
Why couldn’t you hold on to that image, of liberation, peace and higher grounds?
Why did you have to revoke my ascension and condemn me back to mortal flesh surreal?
Roaming your mind, your mourning demeanour and disoriented heart unraveling.
You robbed me of my holy sacrament and weighed me down with an incompatible life.
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