Open your closed eyelid
Which is gently brushed by a virginal dream!
I am the ghost of the rose
That you wore last night at the ball.
You took me when I was still sprinkled with pearls
Of silvery tears from the watering-can,
And, among the sparkling festivities,
You carried me the entire night.
O you, who caused my death:
Without the power to chase it away,
You will be visited every night by my ghost,
Which will dance at your bedside.
But fear nothing; I demand
Neither mass nor De Profundis;
This mild perfume is my soul,
And I’ve come from paradise.
My destiny is worthy of envy;
And to have a fate so fine,
More than one would give his life
For on your breast I have my tomb,
And on the alabaster where I rest,
A poet with a kiss wrote:
“Here lies a rose,
Of which all kings may be jealous.”
She is, if anything, more lovely asleep. The soft brown of her hair descends in waves over her shoulders and back. It smells of roses, a perfume free from the cloying sweetness of society’s eligible females.
When I first met her she was so young and innocent next to the little vultures of the court. While snobbish heiresses and their formidable mothers fought for the attention of the titled bachelor set, she chose instead to escape onto a terrace and avoid the appraising stares of the men. I followed her, ignoring the occasional disapproving glance cast my way. I did not care what the matrons thought of my reluctance to marry, nor of my independent ways. My life was my own, and if a life of solitude was what it took to escape the marriage market then solitary I would stay. But something about the way she’d looked at the predators of the court, the hint of fear and trepidation as she felt the eyes of the patricians examining her for flaws, caught my attention and my sympathy. Here was a girl who wanted to be at the ball about as much as I did. At the first opportunity I followed her onto the terrace, intent upon learning more about the timid newcomer. I expected to find her immediately, perhaps seated on a convenient bench, but instead I had to search a full five minutes before discovering her in the garden, kneeling to admire a cluster of tiny purple flowers. I approached her silently, waiting until I was close behind her to clear my throat. She gasped and hurried to stand, nearly falling over in her rush. I reached out and grasped her arm, helping her to remain upright, and her startled eyes met mine. They were a deep blue, framed by long lashes, and I could sense the spark of intelligence that lay behind them. She took a close look at me before relaxing and freeing herself from my grip. She murmured her thanks, and as we introduced ourselves I could not help but notice how her eyes lingered on me. My eyes were drawn to her as well, and I began to notice the graceful slope of her shoulders, the tilt to her head that bespoke her curiosity in everything around her, the way her skin seemed to glow in the moonlight. She was radiant. We spoke of flowers at first, then of other things, and she was more engaging than women twice her age. I could have been content to wander the garden with her all night, but all too soon she was called inside by a severe looking woman in black who shot me a warning glance as if to say, “You are hardly the sort of company she needs.” Perhaps it was the unspoken admonishment that irked me, or simply the pain of losing my companion, but I heard myself call to the girl to wait. Breaking off a single white rose from a bush at my feet, I presented it to her with a flourish. She accepted it and curtsied, and as she rose I saw in her eyes how much she wished we could remain together alone. Her thoughts, not for the last time, mirrored my own, and as we returned to the ball I vowed that I would someday know everything that lay behind those eyes.
The sun begins to stream in through the windows, the white linen curtains doing nothing to halt the rays. I find myself growing impatient and, like a child, I begin to tease my sleeping beauty, my dearest. I nudge her arm, whisper in her ear, slowly walk my fingers along her collarbone. I am so intent on my work I do not notice that she has awakened until with a flash of those sapphire eyes she pulls me down onto the bed beside her once more. Her expression is one of rebuke, but there is something else there, something more inviting, and all at once the breaking day holds no allure for me at all.
To drink so deeply from the cup of joy is surely a sin, for in these hours together she has become my idol, my goddess on earth. Some might say that I have lost my mind, but I say the opposite: my beloved has given me back my mind. So long as my thoughts lie with her I can never be unhappy, and the memory of this, the first of many nights we will have together, will light up all my days to come.
Indeed, our love has transcended words, and we have no need for speech. The light perfume that she brings into a room, the nameless tune she hums as she leans out the window to view the garden, the feel of our interlaced fingers as we walk hand and hand through the forest—these things are far greater than words can express. Our love has become a deity in its own right, an eternal and infinite being to watch over us forever. Thus we shall live in bliss until time itself, jealous of our happiness, stops out of sheer spite.