10th December 1948 - 19th July 2015
Only music can stem the blood wrench of my heart
Your death began but nine weeks on
Every day your absence wakes me at four a.m.
I can never tell you how much I miss you
Words flowed between us like a river.
How can I endure winter without you, sad divine daughter of September?
Your calls outlast autumn’s miasma, the hesitant tone of your final poem
‘Towards an Obituary’, self-questioning, plaintive Keatsian ardour,
Harbour of all your griefs, your mother’s slow death from cancer,
Denied the bus fare for her last hospitalisation.
When they said you were terminal, “Three or four months and a bit”
You tried hard to finish ‘The Poet’, ‘Brian’s Not There’, ‘Forever Young’.
It was hopeless, so you fled to the South Bank to watch the films
You’d missed, a season of Siodmak, Welles in Chimes at Midnight.
You managed a whole Saturday, Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree
In three two hour episodes but the next day
You phoned at seven, “Please get me into hospital”.
It was the last time, after twelve days they moved you
To the hospice, I sat in the transfer ambulance,
You were strapped down and I strapped up, too far
To grasp your desperate hand. For once your terror was plain,
You’d never come home to your eight cats again.
I was the only visitor to the hospice, save Daisy
To assure your cradle Catholic soul of a Christian burial.
In those last twelve days you awaited death while I,
Hopeless and stunned, listened for your last breath.
Barry Tebb © 2015