Salted Caramels

                                                                                      'Cheer up, Capt'n, buy a flow'r off a poor girl’.

                                                                                                                                              My Fair Lady

 

                           

The cockney flower girl, dirt-clean holds to her breast a splintered basket with a cactus and shredded violets.   A collective individual, wind-swept to stand on cobbled stones, complete with cracked carnal lips.

‘enry ’ riggins waits in the shadows. Enraged and delighted at the sight of her, this spectacle, who presents before him as a stained paradox.

 

A creature swept in

                                  by the storm                                                                                                       

                                                           away from The Gap

                                                                                        

                                                                                         and the fallen comrades

                                                                                                                                who now soar

 

 

 She is me and I am her

                               'All I want is a room somewhere

                                 Far away from the cold night air'

 

*****

 

 

We join 'enry here, on his attempt to transform this deliciously-low-draggle-tailed guttersnipe

                                                                              from

Madam Whore

                                                                                 to

 The Duchess of Plums

                                                                           *****

 

'I've a right to sell flow'rs if I keep off the curb.'

Eliza protests in vain.

 

                                                                           *****

 

You can wager a bet

Be the voyeur

 Kick back and bask in the relish of 'enry’s experiment.

 

You can take his side

By estimating her worth

For she is nothing more than a fleck of working class dirt.

 

You can have fun

  Buy her for a small sum

To see if you can

Get her to speak in the manner in which you want her to be heard.

 

 

                                                                           *****

 

Wait. An argument erupts.

Surely tuppence for this squashed-cabbage-leaf is fee enough?

            'They'll take away me character and drive me off the streets'                

ricochets-soundlessly into empty-space

 

*****

 

 

                          Mass

                       produced.

                A chocolate-harvest.

      Football-pods from the cacao tree,

 dry-moist soil gives the taste of original -sin

 

                                                                                                                            ‘Who          

                                                                                                                          can tell

                                                                                                                 what minor passions

                                                                                                           running in the undergrown

                                                                                                  of poor people’s lives will burst out’….

 

 'Lots of chocolates for me to eat.'                    

 

                     Clean her                                                                                        Factory

                 try sandpaper                                                                                  fermented.

            if it won’t come off                                                                       Clean-sort dry-grate

   burn her clothes, order new ones,                                                     press-pound, thwack, apply

        wrap her in brown paper                                                                 extreme-heat, roll into

   we don’t want any slum-prudery.                                                     the breaking-chamber until

      Wallop her if she gives you                                                            dry-brown-brittle nibs pop

  any trouble, she has to learn to behave.                                        and release the aroma of chocolate

         'Ahyee, e, iyee, ow, you.                                                                        A, E, l, O, U.'

  Drizzle, pour and surge through                                                  Silos, evaporating towers, rollers,

         protruding brass rods                              'The                                 pounding, vibrating,

     ejaculating to a streaming                                                                  conching. Conveyor belts,

              gush of warm                                      rain                                      extruding salt

              flowing milk                                                                                        encrusted

                chocolate                                                                                               taffy

                                                                           in

                                                                        Spain

                                                                        stays

                                                                     mainly in

                                                                         the

                                                                        plain'

 

'My God I think she’s got it,' announces the Honourable Professor Henry Higgins.                    

                                                                       *****

 

Silhouettes of top hats and walking canes. Footsteps on stairs. Pink-satin bodices, lace-trimmed corsets and ripples of French tulle.

 

Venus throws out its white sparks to reflect off the bay. Carriages clatter, bourgeoisie chatter with the crackles of reservation and breathlessness. Silver service and the scent of freshly drawn tea being poured into bottomless cups. 

 

Eliza has been cleaned, smoothed and gift wrapped, her transformation is complete. No longer can you hear her proletariat tones but

 

                                                              she still possesses                                

    

 

                                                                                                                                           the power

       

                  to have

 

                                                                                               a revolutionary thought.     

                         

                                                                      *****

 

   

All text featured in italics is attributed to My Fair Lady, with the exception of ‘who can tell what minor passions running in the undergrown of poor people’s lives will burst out’ which is taken from Christina Stead’s Seven Poor of Sydney.

© Sharon Willdin 2015