Elle: a verse novel

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One: harness on a man’s thick firm figure

Reins apart, Harvey Holford loved his stirrups.
Christine Holford was holding forward, only to reach
the open street of smiling girls in sledges. Her body:
too heavy for the tow with absolutely no risk.
Come swung lightly as quiver
was used tightly with her feet first time,
her facial defects squared. She felt
balanced ground. She could fool all the way,
this time of day, sporting friends.

Passing the night club, Christine stumbled
for a living creature. Her love smiled,
her breast tanned, harmony assured.
Holford had everything across his face,
curves of clouds on the slopes. He turned grey.
Marvellous snow-covered artificial summits,
the wind skating! Fleece-grace: Holford’s
trot thrill! They went, feeling into confidence.
Her muscles met heavy sledges. Faces sat on time-voice.
Christine called this happiness. Christine
from inside already told the noble roadway
her balance. Rhythm stopped thinking.

The rhythm of herself ruled. Her body
was no longer impetuous:
‘I see Holford made one happy swing.’
The road couldn’t make it, half buried
in an icy trickle down her standing up.
Christine ended ignoring Holford.
They pulled a rest. He suggested being shown
to place, scrubbed and scrubbed his own
character. ‘You can breathe in everything.
The people say you love me for my voice.’
With his lips, the waitress disappeared rapidly,
brushed her cheese.

Hungry gorge turns the fragile halo’s perched
spindles: a startlingly black waistcoat.
The females know perfectly well when you scowl;
‘Darling, I love Harvey.’ Christine could see all
the moods that touched her snowball chuck.
His mouth replied in a fierce battle. In the face
they were embroiled, the embarrassed smile.
A somewhat motherly Christine remounted him.
Their lungs occupied adjoining rooms.
‘Have a good shivering,’ she cried, ‘rub a little instinct.’

Sharp, as if it had come from solicitude,
Christine felt cold. Cheeks burning impatiently,
she went, ‘That was a beautiful black body.’
Holford moulded her firm: stood, kissed,
stroked her gesture-head. The young woman
spotted Heather Thatcher, vivacious Viennese
friend, bursting with surgeon-affection for Christine:
‘I’m over Germans, our horse took a lovely blue cocktail.’
‘English feels foreign,’ Holford said, coming back.
‘You want a drink, Bloom?’ Champagne minds murmured.

John Bloom kissed Heather’s touch.
Christine’s disagreeable face on his admired fingers,
pleasant enough, endowed with heavenly immobility.
Watch the others think without a skating daresay.
Voice his features, captivate his musical power:
‘Girls! Half a dozen. No, just the one! Big Danish!’
Scarf!’ squawked Christine, hips like Holford. A
naked look, a jersey besides. He touched his fine
clothes, chilly hands purely erotic, obscene.
Bloom chaste women. ‘What made the beauties
of our bad taste?’ His words (in other words).

Thought interrupted combinations
of nightclub barmaid attire. Excited Heather said,
‘I’m only a little alcoholic.’ Holford left his things, said,
‘Realise, Bloom!’, suddenly not too bad after Christine,
seeing his wife’s shape. ‘Life’s ridiculous –
now openly disconcert me; I’m frightened
by an interrupted beat.’ His Saltdean rival asked the time.
Talking exhausted him that evening. Christine said,
‘Avoid him. He’s something from those old cold weeks.
Voices inside you note we’ve only stopped in Brighton.’

My poor trusting excuses. ‘My darling, avoid him,
avoid him! Harvey, make friends of your charms!
Heather will think anything of you. That’s a sure sign
we can’t be caught. Darling,
money’s a bad taste in your win. Your race
never thought you’d watch him with Jewish actors
brought up on Shakespeare.’ The moonlit play had put him on.
She loved Holford’s nobility. ‘All forms involve us
sensually,’ he murmured, ‘in madness and art.’


Chapter Switzerland

Christine Holford felt Brighton. Her
husband’s hand turned her head, but Christine
wanted self-sufficient exclusive egoism:
her wasted fingernails! Desire spent her blue veins
and Harvey Holford; her husband’s body was
an abundant stream of blood. She measured her face.
Her body even imagined daily revival, how she felt
for her great and gentle sensual secret.
Pneumonia was a severe death, by leeches,
her bedside step in her death stupor. One
unrecognisably hot morning, she awoke frightfully –
but the figure was thought without a bedside,
its name only a vague forehead.

A mixture of thoughts discovered the wave
on Christine’s stripped everything. Holford
loved those moments that reduced, it seemed,
Christine’s joy. Her look: the sick state of pure tender fever.
Crippled, she walked again in the flat. Christine
was Holford’s order. For illness she created things,
abstracted light. Life appeared assured:
discipline she smiled. In Sussex, learning nothing,
Holford thought of his ‘reveries dim’. Demand
reached beyond something, his existence better
once, as if the same. She played some pensive queer.

That man’s having thought-hostility:
came perfectly well. Come
with attention pleased her, revived her thoughts
and lips every day. Holford pictured
shuddered Heather Thatcher! John Bloom’s revulsion
came to take off her hours. A second frivolity
dizzied her back into makeup, chained her pretty good.
‘Love affairs are moments!’ Christine raged,
mechanically. Vivacity brought such moments, her fingers
strong, automatic, but not like attitude. Christine
told Heather, ‘Pause him. Surprise him. I’d remember so
much, if it had not been for meeting him.’

‘Realising you can speak,
I should have explained…
you’d have understood?’
fumbling Christine asked freely.
‘Perverse, he’s almost done too well,
loathing my words, weirdly to ruin my opposite.
Dangerous others said I couldn’t.’
He wanted to thrill Christine
where she had been seated. He broke Christine’s opposite,
determined ease to one side. She shifted
when he was at myself. ‘He seldom leaves home.
Who comes bold? He’s handsome, I’m sure.’
Invaluable Christine abruptly uttered thanks to Christine.

Whining, he used to start. ‘Smell her laugh
which,’ he said, ‘changes her irrational anxiety.
You’ve lost yourself: I didn’t come to arrange
this stand. Lie down!’ She rose beside her tyres,
said she pushed some neat tart before her illness,
Christine easily in order.
Nothing became embarrassed. How softly
movement from the lying down relaxed his only power,
his lethal hearing. Softened while speaking,
Christine could voice now, directed, sat
by her language, cell strength insinuating, ‘I was a bit.’

Voluptuousness rolled on her shoulders;
she was amazed in knowing how. Pleasure-disgust
in herself. Saying ‘Rape’ in those seconds, and ‘No’,
she stared at barriers, feelings. Christine said finally,
‘The gods have felt neutral repugnance.’
Bloom felt surprise yield to him. She thought
of Holford: she had no stranger to fill.
Her husband’s step was going to tell
him. Boredom entered Holford.

He kissed Christine towards her questions.
She stumbled lifeless, obviously trying.
Actually, any number she had then seemed
to keep eyes, given his face, though
he was anguished. ‘Darling’ started quivering.
His hand at work knew the attempt
about his work. Holford detailed a cult.
His load was no way a low operation.
The little Italian didn’t; he died to
answer estrangement. ‘Melt softly,’ he thought,
as his swept-out tenderness murmured:
‘Her immediate sweet maternal head is your
fault. Arms mustn’t realise: you’re life!’


Chapter Woke

Christine Holford, fresh,
was stopped by her body. First
thoughts lay beside her since her
illness. Nightmare protected Harvey
Holford. He had delicious rapture!
Giving herself, she forgot his pleasure –
not by herself a desire to enjoyment.
Convalescence had never known such virgin
disappointment, Christine felt immediately.
Brushed, she saw tenderness early. Holford
deeply passed through Holford. Noble lines,
sleeping two years like the rich, always.

Virtuous mistakes of the will and the means:
both honest hands smile. ‘Peace,’ thought Christine,
drug-evoked by any-health. Her need, their love,
Holford’s shining moment of ‘Mercy’. (Holford
did not understand the word and that worked,
curiously.) Dark, she was against good.
She thought anxiety. The idea mixed
only with Holford. She loved
the assurance within her. What a boy
in her hands, his days never knew!
Christine felt so simple at that moment: hot,
impulsive, perfect power believed quickly.

Christine’s balance discouraged her
emotion. Possession lay dormant
in her secret. Introspection controlled
her imagined idea of no hold over personality-desires.
Christine had this result of her reason
which she could wait no longer to show.
She kissed his state body! Holford pressed
the warm voice. Christine switched on
total felicity. The woman murmured light.
Her light spread Holford, who belonged
to the shadows: Christine had his features
again, mysterious semblance, now wonderful.
Suddenly he continued, ‘Christine! Stroke my pain!
I’m too full of else hush!’ He was calm.

‘Have you been feeling Christine? Better
think about those long sleeping rôles!’ She said:
‘I ask you, how there was my husband’s kind?’
She stopped, surprise face. ‘Please,’ he muttered,
‘don’t be continued! Your operation in Holford’s
feelings.’ He imagined a sort of now.
The slightest crime lost control
of his anxious ‘darling’. Love took
against her, to share however much she wanted.
His reading to Christine felt cultured,
continual confusion, ‘darling’,
Holford suddenly discovering.

So well, so often played, so proudly, she must surely
at that moment have gleamed. Before her ecstasy, arms
round her more. Taken without moving, Holford
had not loved; his mis-aroused thinking loved him.
Sensuality made of this woman his life,
religiously a dull misery. Christine herself felt total power
over a soul that belonged to her soul. Her own body
was thick with passionate, essential love.
They soothed everything. Christine slipped
her innocent companion – some life their love was!

Sensuality: a rarer daylight of the instincts’ flame,
mysterious dark Holford. Christine pitiless to faces,
other-primed for the night, said, ‘Come
to the sick room. All over now. Hurry up!’
Holford told her about his decided time.
(I thought it best to conceal this.)


Chapter exorcised woman

Christine Holford felt unknown. On the brink
of succession, she accepted sickness. Corrupt
fantasies quit this creature, strong for the shades
of that once-more world resumed, the normal place
in this straightforward ‘before’. Pleasures restored
the details of one room, her desire-inflections,
her vitality on a voyage with deep functional servants.
She was feelings. Vigour never had Harvey Holford.
Christine: her sickness was happiness, seductive tenderness
of the imperfect husband’s frustration.
Disturbed, Holford swung.

Christine kept the same happy appetite for
everything-styles. New clothes chose girlish couturiers.
Hat-shops prevented her worrying about
Heather Thatcher in these shopping cutters,
faultless paraphernalia too quickly fitting. It showed
Christine always tempted Heather’s evening. Business help
was due eventually. Already ‘darling’ glanced
at Christine’s vendeuse. ‘You comment on something,
Valerie. Tea party to a night club,’ went on:
‘There’s Valerie, she talks a lot, slander secret.’
‘Christine, believe me. Listen to all the doubts.’
‘Do you think I’m afraid?’

‘Mademoiselle’ gave meticulous instructions:
she will rule at the fitting. Christine
realised one over Heather: Holford will come!
Valerie Hatcher went on, ‘No, that couple!’
Another thought met the whole idea.
You know at most that’s not even words.
‘Darling stranger, don’t dress.’ A night club
mechanically said nothing. A night club? The Calypso?
The Blue Gardenia? She second guessed it, her excitement
exclaimed this world, strongly as harm.
One only thought imagine the mercy of it!

Doing what he wants with total strangers,
everything, every day: ‘Imagine darling,
imagine yourself a night club hostess
expatiated on silence, in order to draw
Christine’s terrified mould.’ She failed.
Frigid Christine seemed impossible;
the limbs moved but she was never anguished
before her contorted lids. Unspeakable flames
could see naked with her fingers, but her hands
screamed each loathsome image as the rest of her body would.
Her friends took Christine to lodge vitality
out of a scarlet Pontiac Parisienne –
only returned with a sudden shock. Her affection
in the icy mystery of her stupor
thought she was staring. She
became aware of a mechanism-stranger.

This woman wanted to detach possession.
She explained this person with excruciating
hollow eyes to escape her fascination towards
its imperative image: bulging lifeless lips
and bestiality! Pouting panic was a second ground
as frightful door handles locked herself.
Between herself and the mirror,
she realised she had her face – and honesty.
She said aloud, ‘Pride!’ Christine shut anything
that might reflect a chair. She pressed her cold hands
to think chaotic impulses of her desperate state.
Animal-mask Christine emerged from shame.
She did so to rally the dim. She groaned.

She had the depths of her soul opposed.
Will power prevented her quickly.
Holford’s den strove to black anything.
On the telephone, Christine said to Heather,
‘I must have barely…’ She breathed.
She hadn’t to ask herself, she just didn’t know.
Christine short-hoped that Heather would say,
‘Absolutely mention it to Harvey.’ ‘I’m not spring,
you know.’ ‘Darling, don’t wear it so impatiently.’
Christine became clear to her sole motive.
Heather heard Holford come. Inexplicable fear
gripped him. It must have been at least ten
minutes’ bewilderment: I still have her minutes.

‘Ask Heather but don’t imagine!’ She sensed
every word could not have explained a minute.
‘Life, take my things off!’ Still bearing the nature
of her guilty excuses, she lurked in her husband,
masculine enemy crouching, fully aware of dementia.
Touch done. An evening of some power, healthily upset.
Security efforts of despotic Christine felt Holford quarrel.
I was disappointed that this was the only decided
resolution, everything she threw back into lived blazing,
like enjoying herself by the idea alone. The variety did give
her suspension over the street. Agony filled her splashes.

Through the glass, ready
in her white face, Christine told you,
‘It’s not that. I’d felt free.’
She will be meeting you
to calm the satanic experience. A full life
compares to her hopeless desire.
Speaking gossip, Christine, shot flat,
was rather upset. ‘A night club!’
came out, surprised. Come
led his wife trembling.

Christine summoned the strength to slake her thirst.
She wanted to like them. Heather said,
‘I had no idea as every Other. You would be boys!’
‘I’m jealous, that’s all. Do you want Valerie
frightened about something in the world? Let’s talk
about drug sensation as the addict’s needle
pricks her expectations, snatched!’ Holford
lacked substance, and thought fingers spread a single cell.
‘Her breasts tell me!’ she cried. Her words ended
in shoulders. Christine stroked his anxiety.

Saving his distracted rending,
he was able to despise her. ‘Don’t despise me,
Christine. Hunt her face
of a hunted innocent. His voice makes me
love to have been hurt.’ Incredibly, pure story
stared him in the bed. Her head, going, stood up.
He saw her standing like a moment of love.
Her stranger exhausted the night. ‘How pale’s my bed
till Christine in the half-light, turning, leaned
over her face. What is it?’ He’d gone to sleep,
not his first vigil by far. Holford had heavy-hearted
eyes. He could bear rigidity in her shivering.
‘I’m scared. I’m here. Oh, Harvey, very well,
tell yourself it’s stars wearing white eyes.’

Christine was shadowed by tennis balls,
now haunted John Bloom’s public had quietly
accepted coming across Christine. She pretended.
Yet talking to me, Christine only had, for ease,
Bloom’s strange show when she rebuffed him.
Quite clearly, gossip went into Valerie. Spicy woman
compliments a man, exacting her desires and fantasies.
Christine’s interesting toneless want:
the most degrading limited society Christine
hardly ever bent, her limbs continued. Bloom was
into those! That smell of human body was really humility!

‘I’m speaking high prices. The same
modest ruin or I’ll never go there,
the Royal Pavilion taking its slaves,
food for Bloom. Faceless façade
without any imagination.’ Meet shapeless desire
abiding this but she had isolated that blind link.
That moment tortured Christine, for she herself
was not the wall of the subsoil. Her soul
collapsed the ordered world in which they had
open power. She had the pressure of instinct
to measure. She was united with all the days
required of her deep sleep this side of existence.
The words noticed she lived, but she transfixed
one single fantasy, the same Daydream
which her initial convalescence had followed.
She was in a face-sudden district: she could hear
his agony. She was sensual during the man –
but the man was painting nameless little angles.

After her ‘theme’ of two days’ blind alley
near the milk bar –The Whisky a Go-Go of course –
Christine sought her supremely important
secret imaginings that now came back. One
grouped for the man in Holford. She dressed
herself as a scarlet Pontiac. ‘Take me
to the street slowly; I’ve forgotten the quays.’
Christine saw them not so tight; they were slowing
down the odd numbered side. The driver began
scanning house fronts. Christine knew those
shoulders of acquiescent women anywhere.
She had a tired-looking neck like that
sworn to understanding embarrassment.
Hard lust told Christine
she had food for the man, a painful sense
of silhouette, his arms short. Her home.

His coarse women took flesh and vision
in their urgent ‘first time’. Christine’s mind
sometimes had to see, driven frightened
little signs against brutal lust. Sometimes
themselves again, the next time, they dared to stop
by the door. Even she brushed sad,
made out of sign. The third lettering
on the fourth time. She got up in an open doorway.
She found looking wanted to help. A breath
can live animal on the little wallpaper.
‘You have the look of ushered come!’ Peter Corvell
took Christine through to a huge bed covered with honey.
The dark quilt began good humouredly:
‘You want to help here? Butter on your nice upkeep?’

(Work in progress September 2023)



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