We brush out our hair,
cut the dry, split ends,
straighten out the frizz.
We lather up our legs
and smooth out the bristle.
We take concealer to those rings beneath our tired eyes
and layer over the unhappy spots.
We tint tiny rainbows on our eyelids
and add a flick of Cleopatra’s kohl.
Heeled, contoured, groomed, composed,
we stage a tincture of our most come-hither selves.
Emily, sister and sweetheart of the modern boy, returns. Here she offers some observations about her sisters at their pre-seductiontoilette.
An old favourite revisited, because artists are allowed to have their obsessions. “Exalted thus, we left” is a reworking of a poem from 2011:
I love the Dorothea Tanning painting that spurred the original “Jacob’s Dream for crinolined girls”. When I’m in Tate Modern, I’ll usually try to pop into the Surrealism gallery to gaze at the image, my crinolined protagonists and the yellow angel wrestled down.
Both versions veer towards the same scene: Jill watching Jack from afar and awaiting his delivery. Although not true to the nursery rhyme’s narrative, I fabricated my own thematic direction. I wanted to evoke a pastoral world in which young people worked in particular gendered realms and were awakening to an adolescent sexuality. So I placed Jill in the kitchen baking bread and Jack outside in the field hoeing and on the hill collecting water.
If you’re curious about the original nursery rhyme you might find the Wikipedia write up interesting. I stumbled across it while preparing this post. A further link was this handy visualization of the rhyme. Perhaps you’ll have as much fun as I did playing with the graphic display options.
You’re all my favourite readers, but… I have a particularly ideal reader. She is well read and articulate and to her wise critique I have entrusted a few unpolished drafts. Her first response to this poem was a giggling, “Hehehe, you put ‘cock’ in the title.”
Well, dear other favourite readers, the two of us had watched a great many seasons of Sex in the City together. Although the original poem was not written in Carrie Bradshaw’s pun-ladled tone, for fun you may read it so. Kindly then imagine further, this poet musing at her laptop on manboys, love and life. Throw in a stylish and quirky wardrobe and fabulous shoes. These props definitely help the writing.
“The Old Cock and the Younger Hens” found its way into my book published in November last year. Please preview Emily’s Poems for Modern Boyshere.