I walk the garden paths, remembering the lady who walked the paths one fateful day. Resplendent patterns, engraved upon my mind, recall the blowing daffodils and bright blue squills. I see her stiff brocaded gown, her powdered hair, her jeweled fan and I yearn to touch her sweet cheek, caress her trembling hand.
Her patterned dress, a fashion plate of pink and silver pain, floated along the gravel path buoyed by high-heeled ribboned shoes, sustained by whalebone and the stiff brocade. Daffodils and squills danced a merry allemande with the wind and she sinks to the seat beneath the lime tree. Fragrant lime where passion bloomed, now stands gnarled with age. And I weep as she once did.
Water-drops echo and splash along the garden paths, endlessly flowing in the marble fountain. Hidden in the hedges the marble basin reflects images of a woman’s softness bathing, waiting for her love. Sweet water evokes the ecstasy of the once dear hand and the desire for freedom from fine brocade. The stained pink and silver gown now lies crumpled in a long-forgotten heap upon the ground.
Vestiges of pink and silver flash between the hedges followed by ephemeral laughter while glimmers of sunlight sparkle on his sword-hilt and black buckled boot. Willingly captured in the shadows, waistcoat buttons press upon soft flesh, while hedgerow dappled sunlight bears testimony to the aching, unafraid adore of young lovers. Whispers of longing, remain crushed by stiff brocade and the Duke’s letter hidden there.
While the pages have grown soft with time, the words of regret, the news of Lord Hartwell’s death in action, cut with the same disregard. Thursdays, like the patterned paths and the faceless messenger, required no answers today.
Never my husband, no matter how many months and years have passed. Never to break the pattern. Denied the rank of Cornel, I will ever be his Lady. The lingering sunlight can hold no blessing for one long dead.
The patterns endure as I walk the paths in Winter and in Summer. Patterned garden paths, stiff brocade, squills and daffodils followed by roses, asters, and snow. Day follows day, and months give way to years. I walk immersed in memory and shield a too soft body with stays and buttons and lace. The paths define the life denied by patterns called a war. My release lives in death, so much death. Will it alter nothing as the pattern marches on?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer