Letter to a Bride to Be

Thank you for sharing with me the newest (yet quite retro) issue of Vogue Bridal
Patterns. I love that off-white shot silk you brought back from your travels and think it
would suit your complexion perfectly. It looks much better than the Nora white organza.
It’s also a tribute to your integrity and I hope I’m not reading too much into your choice of
colour. But before you start making the dress, I urge you to indulge in a little intertextual
journey around your maiden room, if I may say so, for I’m not sure you know on what
galère you are embarking. Mark my words. I don’t mean gondola, or anything romantic,
but galley, a low, flat ship with one or more sails (glad you opted for a visor instead of a
veil) and up to three banks of oars worked by slaves. First, as an artist, you must re-read
Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’ against the grain. Then turn to Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘The
Gentleman of Shalott’ and Jessica Anderson’s Tirra Lirra by the River. I studied both in
year twelve (wish I’d paid more attention). Finally, and this may surprise you, especially
coming from me, read Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House, a work your father drew on to devise
our home. Deep down, I now think Ibsen understood the difference between need and
desire; desire and love; love and lust. Your father would disagree, of course, but I would
maintain that Ibsen was really a proto-feminist writer. Wink. One last thing: beware of
identifications. With two (anti)heroines bearing your Christian name, you wouldn’t want to
become unduly hystericised. Much love. X

Dominique Hecq

 

Dominique Hecq is a bilingual poet, fiction writer and scholar. She grew up in the French-speaking part of Belgium and now lives in Melbourne. Her poetry appears in English, French, Dutch, Spanish and Chinese in literary magazines and anthologies. Often experimental, her writing explores love, loss, exile, and the possibilities of language.

© 2019