Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

Not a sonnet for once

Elegy Number 3 - For Liz

Her eyes less made up than calligraphised
Her beauty intellect burning through skin
a calvinist of literature not sin
She hated what I wrote, would hate this now.
Said poems should be passion shouted loud
her rule was that no rules should be allowed
and she convinced me with her diatribes
not least because she cared enough to scream
at me I should be wild enough to dream
my own dreams, not the steps in a career
She was not wrong – with nothing left to lose
I did the right thing when the time to choose
Arrived. Her acid tongue burned art away
left me with life to work on getting right
told me my charm and wit were rust and blight
I had to live my life in earnest, care
about integrity. She disappears
out of my life for several crucial years.
Was the Rimbaud of critics, fingers burned
down to the bone with booze and sex and punk
avant-garde book-selling and smuggling junk
We meet again with all our dramas done
Middle-aged women writing sharp reviews
Both in poor health but she had better shoes.
Lined up in rows under the mantlepiece
above the gas fire where she huddled warm
scribbling in notebooks. She still hated form
and praised wild chaos though her life had ebbed
and loved the irony that her disease
was caught in childhood. Cat across her knees
Dying in two mirrored brocaded rooms
postcards and masks and dolls and ornaments
around her. Dressed in shawls and cerements
And sipping tea, and sniffing opiates

You were one of my saints. You feared your mind
would go before your liver. Tried to find
some hope and had none. Left before the end
You chose to make the drug your last good friend
whether to die, or throw life in the air
for chance to take or not. Did not despair
so much as wake up and decide one day
to pack your bags and see what death would say.
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