"It fixes itself in the mind."
-Romaine Brooks, on Ida Rubinstein's face, after their break-up
Romaine Brooks, "La Venus Triste" (1914)
And then I dreamt that you and I were no longer who we were. Not myself, I did not know you, and passing you on an otherwise empty street, I did not recognize you. Without your words of greeting, the creation of that space we have inhabited for so long together, the warmth of a home created by that nightmarishly absent rejoinder, you were nothing to me, or more appropriately, without your words to tell me who I was, I was as nothing to me, and in my traumatics, I could not, upon not seeing you as you on an otherwise empty street, do anything except violence. I hurt you to be who I am, to constitute myself as self, to make, to find again the home we had made in a once upon a time (the confusion of dream for reality and reality for dream – I was no longer sure I was not awake). By destroying you, by seeing you no longer as you, I had a dream I would be me again, home again, warm again, not exhausted by the ceaseless wear of not-being-real.
So I attacked, negated and finally annihilated you, so that I could be home again. But still I was left with not being myself and the more desperately I destroyed, the deeper I was lost in the nothingness of who I had become – wide awake now in the dream of not-being. You as not-you reappeared at every turn and this time I thought – I knew – that your subjection would mean my completion. But each time your annihilation did not create space for me but expanded the terror of not-being without escape. Until finally, you were gone and not having recognized not-you, I finally was gone in the spaceless prison of my own indistinction, unable to slumber in the abysmal reality I had created in my dream.
Romaine Brooks, "Le Trajet" (1911)
I had a dream that we were reborn, you and I: you no longer you, and I no longer I. To be reborn, it is a dream; to be caught up, not in the consciousness of desire, where I would consume you and destroy you, but that we be made something new by something more holy, more damning, but oh thereby more deifying than fire. I had that dream, that we were reborn, and all our struggles, the many violences that we waged against one another, wars to conquer the space of peace that we brought one another, were ended: our bodies beaten into plowshares and our tongues prophesying only for one another.
Romaine Brooks, "Spring" (1912)
I dreamt we were reborn, you and I
Caught in the torrent; raindrops dancing on the ground
Water running past our feet, frenetic past our ankles
Hard into our face, stinging into our eyes
Until we were pulled under and washed away
Who we were, now completely past
Lost in the river of life
Beyond a flood, a force more than mere drowning
And behold, all things are new
I dreamt the rain, dancing all along, called out to us
Constantly speaking but one name
Romaine Brooks, "La France Croisée" (1914)
I awoke with a prayer for rebirth on my lips
But every invocation is an evocation,
and the solicitude of slumber is lost at the first sign of waking
I am trying to capture stars for you
Walking to the moon
But the very prayer I speak creates the impossibility of its fulfillment
I am Eleazer with censer in hand: strange incense!
As always I seek only the instantiation of my own dreams.
Forgive me: can I ask that out without demanding,
setting out the terms of your internment, the limits,
the how and why of your actions, attempting to hold them in my hands.
Forgive me/ I will make you mine
Help me/ I know what I need
Romaine Brooks, "Esquisse d'Ida Rubinstein" (1912)