A QUEEN'S LOVE
Lincoln Bill crowned you Queen of all around you,
insisting that he who played King for a day would
kill for a second: the honour so high and
rich with all your bounty –
no mere paper gain, it came laden with the
trappings of a full-hearted love, say it
twice, three times, whatever helps to emphasise.
Now, about that love, I knew from the start –
no need even to read it on your lips – that none could
expect it all in some small-thought way;
a religious man would say the messenger, the chosen one,
has her heart filled daily, to be emptied out into
dry reservoir souls that deserve replenishment
or serve sentences of pale solitude and sorrow.
Tartly, some may say, that’s not how to
use that love, playing with beating hearts, displaying perhaps
a coldness? I offered whatever part of mine you chose to regard,
gladly, thankfully, privileged, our time combined
finite and so much the finer for it.
Forty years later I wait only for a thought to be
twisted back in time to that regal yet raw woman
reaching out to me and me alone, in scenes unseen in any
up-market down-market magazine or any
rich man’s poor man’s cinema screen. Let me
sit in a tree and collect recollections.
Sunsets in Morwenstow, Cornwall, summer ’72, the cliffs places of
dusky, rocky pilgrimage: colours that your bronze sank into and was
swallowed by; followed by just under-age beers in an open-pored
oasis of rest and calm after sun and sea and in sweetest anticipation of
night-long kisses after the breath of tent friends
slowed into innocent sleep.
I keep that week warm, as I do with winter walks when
leaves are no longer to be seen in the treetops rising
high above where we lay upon every one of them that had
fallen to make a lover’s bed.
I knew that these were lifelong gifts, more rare than
a perfect pair of natural pearls and
more exalting than any wordy eulogy.
I start a flood of images of royal visits –
that’s to say events, times and places designed around your presence,
you their essence and forever lost once you had gone.
Take those three perfect days, Cap Ferret,
blackest nights shrouded even the crests of plunging waves just a
few steps away, those nights defined by the smell of
salt and weed left high some tides back, mixed with the sand in your hair,
hair that soaked up the dark and everything wrapped in it, and
became a language of the pounding waves on a battered beach.
Reach right back to replay those days, uncover
memories so old, a life too far back, a dream perhaps?
But I wrote of some of this then, in words that foretold
they would be found and heard again; to luxuriate in
the enigma that was and is you, hoping
there would be no resolution.
Standing, now and then, in the shadow of that love, of the
doubt in that love, I crawl further inside it and
seek its quietest corner, the better to preserve it; and
ask myself whether good sense, if consulted, would say
I ought not engage in such solitary acts, should not
stop and blow off the dust, fill the cracks in that
statue I built; and whether my own loves would view it all as a
sign of a waning, a wavering, of the spirit, some sad
hankering after youth? But the simple truth is that if a Queen
takes your hand, or holds your waist, a trace remains
and, just as your mother fed you the milk of life, and is
forever to be thanked for it, so you owe this Queen a special love,
to be freely acknowledged, for she has made much of you and has
prised open your eyes and lifted them skywards.