Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ode to a Porcelain Princess

Josephine:

Every year your image becomes a little mistier. You gaze at the camera, quivering, afraid to disturb the hushed air. Around you, the worshipful glances. Your beauty is heart-wrenching. You know it.

Yeah, I went to uni with that girl. I used to tremble everytime I passed her and she barely knew I was alive.

You went from normal to translucent to transparent. The snow queen, the champagne flute brimming with bubbles, the ghost. I can't believe I used to sit next to you in school. That you were there cleaving the air, occupying space. Even then you moved like Dresden china.

You knew my friend Jo.

Jo?

Yes, at college. You were interested in her, weren't you?

Well, you know, she was some chick. She was the girl to be seen having lunch with. She was the girl to be seen dancing with. It conferred a status. But no, I never really knew her.


You fed on romance novels. You tried to imbue the sublime into everyday ordinary things, into everyday ordinary people. For a while we would see through your eyes. But then you would leave and the glorious reds and purples would fade to prison-block grey.

Where is Jo?

I don't know. Nobody knows. She just disappeared.


I sometimes wonder how your life turned out. Maybe you are the wife of some rich businessman. He covers you in silken draperies and diamonds until he realises that diamonds are too hard, bright and real for your beauty. So he gives you congealed moonshine, Mikimoto, naturally. And all adorned he stands back to worship you, softly gleaming in the purple air.

He works off his passion on his teenage mistress, all lipstick and body fluids and thick eyebrows. But he doesn't love her, see? She's just there for convenience.

Because you are too ethereal for clumsy hands. Because you need to be laid up in lavender, framed behind non-reflective glass.

You're not real Josephine. You never were.

10 comments:

goldennib said...

Do you think she is/was this way herself or did she become this untouchable person because of other peoples' perceptions of her?

Jenn said...

I think the world was ugly and she sought to escape by becoming increasingly ethereal. Sometimes, she was so translucent you could hardly see her. She shivered in the morning air, because she had become so thin and I often wondered if she was really there. She took on the aspect of a dream. A friend of mine went to university with her and he could never bring himself to talk to her. She was too perfect. She knew this. She was aware of this perfection. She worked on it every year, widening the divide between herself and us.

Worked on it until she disappeared. Nobody knows what happened to her. Or where she has gone.

David Cho said...

I wonder at times what has happened to all these glamourous boys and girls from high school and college now that their youth is behind them.

Probably they are busy raising the next generation of glamourous and perfect Barbies and Kens.

Used to visit nursing homes a lot with my church group which gave me an chance to observe elderlies. Were they once upon a time full of glamour, but now are just awaiting death? What will come of me when I join the legions of elderlies?

part-time buddha said...

"You tried to imbue the sublime into everyday ordinary things, into everyday ordinary people."

I'm torn about this line. On the one hand, I feel that everything and everyone is already imbued with the sublime. But on the other I would like to be the kind of person who would imbue the sublime into everything.

Thanks for giving me something to ponder all day.

Jenn said...

PTB: You're welcome. And thank you for pointing this out.

Although I have to say there are a few people who have a penchant for changing the way we look at things. Suddenly, a tired old flower drooping in a dusty vase is art.

You know what I'm saying?

part-time buddha said...

Yes I do. The old flower image, though not in the vase but in a run-down train-yard by the ocean, reminds me of Allen Ginsberg's 'Sunflower Sutra.' Despite the fact that his 'Howl' altered the course of my life, 'Sunflower Sutra' is my favorite poem of his.

And the reason I look up to Ginsberg so much is that he tried throughout his life to alter the way that everyone looks at their world.

A thinker said...

hmm. She sounds like a very interesting person.

It's amazing, isn't it, how certain people have "presence", so that there's something special about just being around them.

Jenn said...

David: The glamorous boys and girls? I met an old glamour girl. She is adored by her very important husband, she flits around playing lawn bowls for recreation. Old men make eyes at her. She loves life, I can tell you...but then, although she was very very beautiful (a beauty queen, in fact), she was no ethereal orchid. Very down to earth, very human.

PTB: Heh. The Sunflower Sutra. I'd forgotten about that. I guess the real writers and poets had this transformative ability. True discovery being, not in finding new lands but in looking with new ideas.

A thinker: I know. I tend to get addicted. And then, I have to restrain myself. Because although they may seem to have a touch of the divine, humans are just that. Human. And putting them on a pedestal is a tad unfair. (I say this, and then I go ahead and do it anyway)

David Cho said...

Perhaps my definition of glamour is a bit different from yours.

Most of popular people placed on the pedestal tend to be shallow and focused on the externals, hence the appearance of perfection and glamour. They seem to be enjoy immunity from all the troubles of the world that we mortals are constantly subject to.

Perhaps that was not the case with Josephine.

Jenn said...

Hmmm probably not. Although the old glamour girl I was talking about was not Josephine. She was someone else.

Jo had substance, but there were times when I thought she was merely acting a part, that of an airbrushed magazine picture of herself.