Tag Archive | henriette

Henriette has a job

Finally a letter from Henriette!  (Read the last one here.)

Dear Odalisque,

Thank you for your invitation to visit.  I have never been in an obelisk, and ah! the aeons since I last saw an ocean, don’t remind me of them, unless I may count the flat deserts that were sea floors.  I stood at the bottom of those oceans and drowned myself in a fire-dry sky.  Then, I was much happier.  When night came, the stars were very friendly, a school of bio-luminescent fish curious about me in my glass bowl.

I have been very busy since October, when the Christmas season began in Venezuela.  I have taken a position in the new Ministry of Supreme Happiness.  I’ve enclosed a snapshot of this position: does it o’erwhelm you with exalted felicity?  So it intends.  The shovel intends to remind you that Chavez now hangs out with the people underground.   Not in the grave, but in tunnels.  Perhaps you’d like to dig yourself one, to reconnoiter with le President?  Reports vary as to whether he is still a bird.

When I die (do odaliques ever get to die?)  I will return, not as a bird, but as a wolf.

Don’t tell your friends. 

Did you ever think you’d see an odalisque draped in blue, blue of Mary’s color?

Hello to the birds, says wolf, salivating.

love & toilet paper,

Henriette

henriette felicidad

Dear Henriette,

Congratulations on your new position!  Will you get a day off?

The birds say they know a very fancy song called Peter and the Birds.  The birds, assisted by Peter, trap a wolf.  The wolf winds up in a zoo.

But don’t worry.  I’m no Peter.  And in their song, the wolf manages to eat one bird…duck, I think?

Black swan (who most resembles a duck) says he doesn’t remember anything about that.

I asked the birds if odalisques die.  Phoenix got very excited and tried to turn my scrapbook into a pyre.  The rest of us aren’t sure.  Owl points out that we’re art.  Black swan believes we are therefore immortal.  Hawk suspects we can die, but we’ll be created at another time in a new, more relevant form.  Hawk sees no reason why that form couldn’t be a wolf, so that should please you.  Crow (did I tell you crow turned into a parrot?) says “all all perishes.” All, I suppose, includes odalisques, and even the impulse towards art.

I can’t find the starlings, not that it matters as they don’t seem to think actual thoughts.  They are feeding on and fertilizing some forsaken marsh.

Mary!  How’d you wind up with her coat?  Sacre Couer!  An odalisque, in Mary’s coat?!  What’s she wearing?  Have you seen her?

Will we see you soon?

your friend,

The Odalisque

henriette_staghorn_qtrsz1_suprhappy

And now I have to wait and wait, for another missive from Henriette.

Henriette libre

A new letter from Henriette!

(Read her previous letter and my reply in bones, candy wrappers, a winnowing basket.)

staghorn beetle stamp

Odalisque,

Henriette libre!  Chávez became a bird, and I emulated him, slipping through the bars of my cage.   For his corpse my guards were sent to herd the queues of mourners clogging the streets.   I got my coat and walked right out, stood beneath the red portico of my prison de bellas artes.   Nearby, a confused man (at the wrong museum).  I smothered him with my coat, and stole his clothing.  Left him naked, recumbent as an odalisque upon the threshold of the museum.

I wish I could have stayed to watch him come-to, humiliated and exposed.

Do you still measure time with grains of sand?  Caracas is no desert.  I will learn to blow rings from a pipe.  Ceci n’est pas une pipe.  It is my life, lovely halos of smoke, disintegrating.

You ask if I ever learned how to love?   I try to love myself.

Here’s a photo of my new self.  I mean, my disguise.

On the lam,

Henriette

henriette with pipe

Henriette was always the wilder of us two.  Some cruel justice in her…smothering a man with her coat!  But she escaped she escaped!

Henriette,

What kind of bird is Chávez?   Maybe we have mutual friends.   We could convince him to give you a visa and you could visit us here in the obelisk?   I’m not sure how you’d get up but maybe you can rig something with smoke rings and your coat?   I have bones here–I cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving, and kept the bones because I didn’t want to upset black swan by throwing them into the marsh.    They’re in my sugar bowl.  You can have them if you want.

I put your picture in my scrapbook with a collage that is not a pipe.

If you are seen, I hope you will be appreciated.

Your (treacherous-less) friend,

The Odalisque

ceci n'est pas

Do I still measure time in grains of sand?

bones, candy wrappers, a winnowing basket

It came it came!  A letter via staghorn post from Henriette!  (read about Henriette here)

Dear Odalisque,

Everyone I know, used to know, is trashed and wavering in filthy board-rooms, louche galleries, swanky trashheaps.   I hear their twinkling laughter, drunken howls and outrageous tweets even here, in my climate-controlled basement.  I know they mean no harm.  They are indifferent to me.

Thank you for writing.  It is true I still have my coat, moth-eaten but sustainable, in this old trunk Matisse sketched for me.  It is true I have few visitors–but few is more than I’m used to, having desired only solitude, like you.  I with the company of bones.

Oh the bones, Odalisque.  Lacunae of exquisite topology, elaborate curvatures, like dessicated ovaries flowering against a shockingly blue sky.  Fractal erections.  Antlers.  Femurs.  Knucklebones.

We are not growing young.  It is only with labor, much much labor, that our extinguishment is not a snuffing out, but an ecstatic obliteration in light.

A guard is coming.  He will peer closely at me to assure himself I haven’t disintegrated into an obvious fake.

Write soon.

Your friend,

Henriette

On my very first scrapbook page I wrote these words:  “I will write no more of love.  Is anyone ever satisfied?”  Henriette and I both experienced a disillusionment with “love”, whatever “love” is when you’re an odalisque who everyone wants to look at.   At some point, bathed in gazes, thoughtful odalisques react to submersion in viscous adoration with the apparently outrageous question “What am I?”

Lovers come, lovers go, the retreat of street-shoes across elaborate carpets upon which we, barefoot, barely concealed by shimmering drapery, lie.  What does an odalisque feel?  Who is there, not feeling, not known?  I felt trapped inside my own desirability.   Inches beneath my skin I felt a barricade between all-but-my-surface and everything else: an unknown quantity <– my skin–> the world.  The “real” world.  I could see it, as if through chinks of  mounded rubble.   But what or who was in there looking out, so fiercely protected from invasion or intimacy?  I felt a faint wind.  I could see nothing, and the sound was a soft emptiness, a downiness into which too much had collapsed and suffocated.

The options available to Henriette & I ?  Jaded hedonism, vengeful vampishness, feverish tragedy, or domestication, a settling down, settling in.  We considered our options and cried “fuck this!”  We meant these words metaphorically, not literally, and that, that delineated something raw and fibrous  that we resolved to call “I”.  We grabbed our coats and ran.

We were never afraid of living our lives alone.

I WAS afraid of becoming brittle and sopped, trash spit out of the ocean that crumbles at a touch–corroded aluminum, brittle cellophane, the shattered foil wrapper of something toxic and sweet.  Better to be a seashell, empty and clean, or a beat-up piece of glass.  Better to be a crab scuttling away from the encroaching foam, or even the dry rasp of the dune grass, if not the dunes,  if not the collapsed lungs of the sea creatures upon the sand, if not the moon’s liquidity on the ocean’s trembling musculature, or the moon itself.  No, not the moon.  The winnowing basket woven across the sky by its mensual arcs.

That yes that.

Dear Henriette,

Did you ever figure out how to LOVE someone?

The birds all say hi.

Your friend,

The Odalisque

staghorn post

me wearing red harem pants in odalisque solidarity

I have decided to send a secret message to Henriette.  Carrier pigeon post was not an option as she is incarcerated in a basement, which I assume has no windows.  Therefore, I am using staghorn post.   This  service, with their wide net-work of inconspicuous agents, will be able to return any messages to me even though only a single agent (who lives here in the obelisk) knows of my actual location.

I have placed a misleading return address in case my message is intercepted.  Just let those authorities try to find me on the open seas where I will never, never go again!!

More as the situation develops.

(Read about my imprisoned friend, Henriette, here.)

–The Odalisque

Henriette

I’ve had terrible news.  Owl breezed in with all-the-news-fit-to-print, in which I found an article about an old friend, Henriette.  (read the article Odalisque in Red Pants here.)

me & Henriette back in the day

Henriette has, for the past decade or so,  led an austere, artistic life in the southwest desert, as the article states.   She was an example to me, The Odalisque, when I came to my obelisk.  I have these snapshots from Henriette …it’s hard to even look at them now….

snapshots from Henriette in the desert

Henriette has been captured!  Packed in a red tube (don’t let that industry double-speak fool you…she was bound in red harem pants,  then rolled up in a sumptuous Turkish rug) and handed off to authorities who will return her to a dank basement where, the article says, no one will appreciate her!

Can you imagine what it means for an odalisque to be amongst people who do not appreciate her?  It is one thing to be a solitary odalisque as I am, but to be in the public eye but dismissed?!   Even worse, the article says she will be spited as a bourgeois.   Henriette?  A bourgeois?  Long, long ago poor odalisques ASPIRED to the bourgeoisie.  No more!  Henriette and I are beyond your conventions oh wretched outer-world.  Leave us alone!

I want to help Henriette  if only with kind words and assurance that she has a friend.  I blush with shame at my hesitation.  For I, The Odalisque, am afraid.  If “they” know about me, will they snatch me, too?  Where would they take me, these authorities?

I comfort myself with the thought that I have birds for friends…far more useful than the company of bones, which Henriette preferred.   Birds can fly and spy and deflect and bring warnings.

What should I do for pauvre Henriette?

Here is the picture that keeps appearing in the newspapers.  What no one but I notice–because I, also, am an odalisque– is that Henriette still has her COAT.  As I said in an earlier post…every odalisque needs a fantastic coat for dark times…

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