The First Patient of Doktor Coppelius

by Catherine Nock

Goodmorning goodmorning.
Marie. Your hand please. Arise.
A faraway greeting with faraway eyes,
like pushing a boat from a crumpled
shore. Limestone-bright, yet unfocused from
the sleep or the anaesthesia.

She does not want to lift the veil;
looking blind from the white window
at the handsome white sea.

her free radical energy;
the Dada curls in her eyelashes;
Marie, do you remember how it goes?

She sits motherless on the balcony
Belonging to a mysterious family; white-skirted,
ballet-shoed. Hair full of false curls.
She was sunblonde, a Lucy
who would only speak for a dream.

She was never
carried in two hands;
the cobalt hair seeping
into the cradle of leaves
for years, bolted like a secret beneath the sea;
the origins of her mother blood
swimming like mercury fish.
Infatuated coma.
Skin paler than snow on the border.

Coppelia: she is the china face that you can
barely see behind the curtain,
lifting dollish limb –

Marie, Marie, smiling wide as knives
on the block, break to me your fears.
Your mind is lonely, tempestuous;
full of picture, music, salt.
Not sick, but livid. Dendritic.

For I, Doktor Coppelius, have decided to hide
my stone secrets in a high-vaulted room.

On returning, we must break
the fever-dew skin of memory. Marie,
tell me,
what have you seen?
At night, when the surreal dances
alive; lifting humanish hand,
balancing chalk feet on rocks
half in sea, half in sand?

A bright blue lake bloated with waterlilies
(too many to understand);
you have seen the shifting of the sands,
the tiny goldfish that fizz, mad
and catherinewheel beneath the gloom;
to prize your oxygen
with rasping breaths;
the sugarwhite flowers that bloom.
I am not china like her, you say, but
You ache to return your wooden feet to the shore –
with cattish impatience, to my dear dear Coppelia,
Queen of nowhere. To dust. Feet swinging.

Coppelia: your hand please. Darling of these dreams,
with terracotta eyes and unravelling seams.