Elegy Five – for Stacey
Never my friend. We shared an overlap
of people and of bars. We sometimes talked
though neither of us ever would have walked
across a bar so we could talk some more.
She was the posh one. And there wasn’t space
for two with cut-glass voices. She’d a face
all cheekbones and hauteur. And she was thin
though not as thin as later. Wore a dress
as the designer meant it, more or less.
While I had to accessorize at best
with belts and scarves – that time that Ossie Clark
asked who had made my outfit, in the dark
that it was one of his. She had the ease
of looks and charm. The sort of arrogance
that puts the people round you in a trance
where they do what you want. She’d raise a brow
and waiters served her first. And men would queue
to talk to her, and pretty women too.
They bought her drinks, and clothes and fine cocaine
And sometimes she would smile and make her pick
of those she’d fuck. Our surgeon made her sick
and she had pain that wouldn’t go away.
She paid for drugs by whoring, had to take
drugs to bear whoring. Witty, couldn’t make
a joke that you’d remember the next day
She nearly died; black gunk came from her ears
and she was sick and spectral thin those years
that she had left. She spent those years content
with having little. She still had the charm
but tempered with humility and calm
and she was loved each day until she died.
Tragic farce killed her – tedious to run through
mistakes she made, and clerks and doctors too.
She lay for weeks somewhere just outside life.
Her friends around her, comforting her wife.
And one day stopped. She’d asked her closest friend
to make sure she was lovely at the end,
and paint her lips and lashes, fix her hair.
I couldn’t help with that, but I was there
to witness. As I bear this witness now –
I cared, not as a friend. I don’t know how
to say why. Save I feel that this is owed
to her, my chance companion on the road.