Charlotte Raby


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I won't provide any background on this piece. I will say that it was
important that I write it. One of the best things about art
is that it can make one think, and each person can come their own
conclusion as to what it means.

The Scent of a Rainbow

by Charlotte Raby, 2001

Heads bowed, gloved palms together
Between our breasts,
The Fan Ladies and I knelt
Before Blue Boy.

Somnolent worship filled the room, my head.
Fingers of light thrummed the rug
To the rhythms of the outer world,
Barely imagined.

Within those bright plumes dust danced,
And I wondered:
Does the light excite
Or merely illuminate?

One day, softy, music grew
From that light.
It expanded until I feared the Fan Ladies would hear
And kill it.

Afraid of their faces,
I slid my eyes to Their gowns.
Gray dust rested between each velvet fiber.
Settlements of it lined my fingertips.

Yet the particles within my glowing bars
Jumped, played tag, made love,
Each to one of the infinite tempos and tonalities
conducted through them, through me.

My hands fell to my sides
And dirt clumps pattered to the floor.
Although Their murmuring continued,
Their eyes held me.

Their twitching lips ceased when
I stood and found the door.
Upon crossing its threshold,
My satin gown and long hair
Floated about me.

I moved forward,
At first blinded by my
Virgin exposure to the prickles of
Young Sol.

Their high heels echoed
Mine on the concrete.

I paused near a wall as tangled graffiti
Blared from its pores,
The colors of breath and promise.
It gifted me measures of Solís warmth,
And I wanted more.

The Fan Ladies caught my arm to pull me away,
But I approached.
Within Their grasp my arm twisted
Until the bone gasped for air.

They dropped it then,
Patted my head,
And I, grateful, cradled
The infant against my belly.

Behind me, the Ladies injected
Their discordant whispers
Into the wallís adornment.

Under noon heat,
Its charring stanza
Browned my skin.

Beautiful and brave,
I raised my hand toward it.
Fans fluttered.
They abandoned me then.

The sudden stillness drove me to touch it.
Flesh burned, tears sublimated.
Yet I adsorbed,
A scholar of the wall.

Satin faded; spiked heels sunk
Into concrete.
Finally, my glassy palm slid away,
And blackened shards of my glove
Drifted to the ground.

That's when I heard it again,
My Dusty Suite from long ago.
Beneath blue and gold, it was pure,
And I incapable of attenuation
Through sedition.

Neck vertebrae cracked as I looked
From my blackened hand print to the
Strawberry smears on my dress.

Against rigor I lifted my feet from the
Useless pods planted there
And stepped back.

The Fan Ladies appeared with an offering:
White repenting gloves, one straight,
One bent
To sheath
My sin.

As I peeled my tattered shame
Over crooked bone and earthworm scars,
Their eyes lighted with triumph, then averted, as
They waited for me to discard it
And rejoin Them.

I smoothed and folded it,
Then slipped into my pocket
New Testament.

Backwards I ran, until my legs
Remembered and corrected me.
Concrete disappeared.
Abstractions trilled around me.

I slowed, and then stopped at the base of a
Family of steps, beyond which
The aria still called.

With my shiny, scarred palm
I tested their surfaces;
They returned it gentled,
Lifeline restored.

I ascended to a clear water-skin.
Inside, the fiery Maestro drew
Steady writhing life, in answer to my
Clumsy question asked a lifetime ago.

Inside my pocket, my fingers studied
The crusty witness there.

I pulled it out, draped it along my arm, noticing
Their everlasting imprints
On my ruined limb,
Wondering if my flaws would bar me.

Head high, I exhaled and pressed through,
Letting the glove
Slip away.

Drenched and blinking,
I felt my lungs pump warm,
Living air.

I left Them there,
Silk shrouded hands
Against the shimmering boundary.

My toes, ticklish
And stained green, lifted
From deep, grassy footprints,
As I followed beating wings
Into the Sun.


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© Charlotte Raby 2010