Ashes and the Lie Box

If I ask about childhood
which story will you pull
from that enormous purse?
Will you tell it in English,
en espanol, or en francais?

I'll understand, the way I know
 it is easier to invent and reinvent self, a husband
 waiting on each coast, checkbooks       
 with different last names, 
 and neither naming you theirs in the end.

She laughs at my need for precision, shuffles
her lies in a box.  Such beautiful handwriting
for each fiction.  I can see tulips
teased open under those fingertips--
not forced; stroked open, coaxed before their time
and willing.  Nothing is fixed, she says,
it is all mutable, and you can't catch me
no matter how much you read, just remember
the beauty.

And I do, wondering was it Rupert or Hugh, 
Henry or June you loved most, simultaneously
and at what cost, or were you so borrowed French
you reveled in each love and every loss equally?
How did they know which coast or cliff
to finally float your ashes over--
the fineness you became still blurring lines
and defying definition, as your particles,
like the truth you owned, bone-deep 
dispersed on wind and water, some
on sand, penetrating all elements
of your erasure, except light.

I still don't get an answer, her penciled eyebrows
fallen parentheses still circling tight the words 
she won't say.

My attempt at character interaction.  can you guess who this is?

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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65 Responses to Ashes and the Lie Box

  1. claudia says:

    oh i’m curious who she is but i don’t know…love the penciled eyebrows
    like fallen parentheses…ha..the tulips teased open… she sounds like quite the character..laughing at the need for precision…re-inventing the self again and again..ha…still pondering..

  2. Natalie Wood maybe. Just a guess, my history here is not as deep. But this reads very well, in fact very well, and it kept me reading to find out who had such a life as you described. I will be checking back to find out.

  3. brian miller says:

    Nothing is fixed, she says,
    it is all mutable, and you can’t catch me
    no matter how much you read, just remember
    the beauty….i love that…that we dont have to know or understand them completely…we never will, but we can still find beauty…it is a philosophy for life…love the coaxing open of the flower as well…it shows patience….cool…not sure who but will look forward to finding out…smiles.

  4. WHat a wonderful riddle… and I can not guess who this fascinating lady is…

  5. Sisyphus47 says:

    Françoise Sagan ;-P

  6. annell4 says:

    Oh if only we could put the pieces together in the lie box…read the stories…hear the voice one more time.

  7. Mary says:

    No idea, but a fascinating poem!

  8. I can’t work her out either – what a fascinating tease!

  9. kelly says:

    Well, I am stumped, but I love the poem all the same. And I hope you will reveal her identity after a bit to satiate my curiosity! I especially loved that last stanza, just haunting and beautiful.

  10. Rowan Taw says:

    No, I don’t know either. But your poem has such an enigmatic quality, I’m kinda happy not knowing (curiosity will tempt me back to find out though).

  11. purple says:

    Great poem Susan, and one of my favorite poets!! :Kiss me and you’ll know how important I am” ??? My guess anyway.

  12. Love the poem but have been wracking my brain but can’t think… can’t wait to find out!

  13. Now that I have spilled the beans on Anais, I can edit the poem! Yes!

    • scotthastiepoet says:

      A great hymn to this vibrant free spirit – “the fineness you became… defying definition” and any sense of ownership too. An inspiring writer and great choice for a chat!

  14. Laurie Kolp says:

    I wouldn’t have been able to guess, but I love this idea of a riddle for us to solve! Now I’ll have to go to that link and learn more about Anais Nin.

  15. ah. i knew. i promise! “or were you so borrowed french?” just got me. i love this.

  16. nelle says:

    I’m adverse to guesswork, but nice piece of writing.

  17. circling tight the words she won’t say…
    amazing line… = )

  18. jmgoyder says:

    Yeah, I knew it was Anais (no, I didn’t really!)

  19. kkkkaty1 says:

    Wow..I was unable to guess..I plead ignorance…for me she was a long ago history lesson, so I will have to look her up…also wasn’t there a perfume named after her???

    • Yes, there was a perfume named after her, Anais Anais, one that a boyfriend bought me, without even trying it, because he was trying to make points with me, by the name alone.

  20. Sisyphus47 says:

    Lovely, wonderful writer and beautiful woman 😉

  21. unfetteredbs says:

    You are one clever gal Susan. Wonderful. Not to be redundant but I loved the eyebrow line too!!

  22. MarinaSofia says:

    I have to admit I only ever read her journals (which are fascinating), so am not sure how good she was as a writer. Yes, I would have lots of questions to ask of her as well.

  23. Now that was a tough one and I’m glad it’s out there and grateful I had a lot of company. This makes me want to read a biography and her work. Tantalizing poem, tantalizing subject.

  24. absolutely breathtaking, Susan! Anais Nin is one of my favorites as well.

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