Haunted by Dreams, by Julia Duke
Haunted By Dreams
Afternoons I wandered on the Trocadéro,
all of Paris laid at my feet, glittering with promise.
Julie clutched my hand, peering through railings
at what might be. Sacré Coeur gleamed tall, inviting,
rising up, taunting me, whose heart yearned
for those city streets, those open boulevards,
the spaces where my fellow artists roamed,
free to taste, to touch, to recreate the vision,
the music of those far off places, forbidden haunts
in crowded backstreets, theatres, unspeakable venues
where life teemed, tantalising, like fishes, weaving, darting
in a never-ending flow of wriggling, restless
exuberance. Never to be my own.
Two years after my death, the Ecole des Beaux Arts
opened its doors at last, welcomed my sisters in
as fellow artists, to those hallowed halls
where men spent their days in holy passion
that would grip them all their lives.
Give him his due: my father encouraged me,
brought me tutors of the finest quality money could buy.
But still I was excluded, barred from my profession,
though I hung around the men,
Edouard, Eugène, Edgar, Pierre,
painting and being painted; painting myself,
brush and palette in hand, a proper workman.
I was proud. I painted verandahs, railings, cages,
painted Julie: writing, reading, self-absorbed,
gazing through windows, lost in her thoughts.
Leaning on that cool iron railing,
I shared my heart, dreamed my dreams.
Warmed by the sun, we spied freedom,
Julie and I, through the bars of our cage,
glimpsed her future on the misty horizon.
Julia Duke loves to experiment, with poetry and with creative non-fiction: personal essays, ekphrasis, nature writing and a recent hybrid project on identity. Currently living in Suffolk, U.K., after fifteen years in the Netherlands and six on the beautiful west coast of Wales, she has found her inspiration in landscape and her fellow humans, from diverse artworks and quirky ideas. Her poems and articles are published in various anthologies and magazines. Conversations, her first poetry pamphlet, is published by Dempsey & Windle (2021).
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