OATH SWORN OR GIFT IN BAD FAITH : THE DEPOSITION OF MELISANDE : DIALOGUE BETWEEN WIND & SEA OR SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION & THREE MORE OF THE FIVE MOST POPULAR USES OF WETNESS, Ed Pavlic

Map, David Carmack Lewis

Audio for OATH SWORN

OATH SWORN OR GIFT IN BAD FAITH :
THE DEPOSITION OF MÉLISANDE : DIALOGUE
BETWEEN WIND & SEA OR SPONTANEOUS
COMBUSTION & THREE MORE
OF THE FIVE MOST POPULAR USES OF WETNESS

this might sound strange : they were never alone
without me in the room Lily & I at the table
he never turned around none ever heard him play
like he played on those sun-flooded days :
rain & wind & waves gushed thru their bodies

the two of them alone & I learned to sing
& not wake up the huge white-haired mammals
that slept in his head she’d sit eyes like winter caves
& stripped to the waist & I’d watch the line
of sunlight push past the marble edge & color

a woman’s skin blue like midnight flame
from the fresh grave of a beggar she’d draw
my hand under the table and whisper :
If you want a different answer try asking yourself
the same question over & over

again” : “if you want rid of eye-slits in the satin
mask learn how to sit still & ready a greased bullet
in a chambre & never pull your face back
from the fire” she bought the pistol when he left
& fired a warning shot into the wall over my shoulder

she blamed the creme-heavy silence on me blamed
pleasure fresh as a new scar on an over-ripe peach
on the silence & gave the three of us the count of five
to get out : her eyes roll & bob drown
at the surface whitewashed & waterlogged lifeboats

capsize in the Dead Sea the hot mussel finds a floating

rib & a thousand blank sheets flash thru her face
she lived after that he couldn’t stop talking about her
perfect torso he never saw her again & none ever heard him
play the dark yellow stain the way a scent trail fades
at the tip of a breast as if he could just about touch

his own to the blind crease in the song & the shadow of a groove

     left by the silent tongue of gun-smoke from an opened mouth

_________
Ed Pavlic

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Ed says of this poem:

“Oath Sworn or Gift in Bad Faith. . .” is a monologue by Emma Bardac, a singer and banker’s wife with whom Claude Debussy had an affair. Debussy and Bardac then moved in together in Paris causing Debussy’s wife, Rosalie, or Lily, to shoot herself in the chest with a pistol. She survived the gunshot. Debussy visited her in the hospital and then, word is, he never saw her after that.”

 

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