A Tragedy of Beauty

There was the trembling of her hands, their coldness:
The anguished face,
And I held her
To reassure her of her beauty.
But she did not then, as almost always,
Believe me
So fragile her self-esteem.

On Sunday, the cat of some neighbour beside us,
We sat in that small garden
Not far from the centre of York -
She cold, enwrapped in her coat,
I in my shirt:
There was the late May Sun to warm us,
But the cool wind stole what little warmth she felt
As she sat on the grass, oblivious to its dampness.
There were words - from me -
About life, love, a past,
And she listened, answering only
To castigate herself.

She was beautiful, even then when that sad expression came to mask
Her life -
Beautiful, with eyes of changing blue,
That golden hair.
Beautiful, wordlessly reaching out to me in that moment
As she had reached out to me for the six weeks
Of my stay,
Pleading in silence
While I with words formed some stupid expression,
Some ignorant idea born of blind arrogance. 

There are no excuses for my failure, then:
No excuses:
My intellect the snare which trapped me.
Too many words; too little gentle, re-assuring, silent love.
I should have felt, known, that awful anguish which transformed her -
Cloud to warm Sun -
And held her, held her
Until the warmth of Summer lived in her,
The Sun is not annoyed by cloud
Knowing rain for the burgeoning life it is
But I, in my blindness, deafness, ignorance, did not know -
So many clouds, I had not thought the world contained so many.

"Please don't go," she pleaded on that Sunday,
But I did go, selfishly, stupidly, vainly,
Leaving here bereft, alone:
Nine hours later, she lay dead.

There are no excuses for my failure, there.
Now, three days on, such warmth of Sun to take me out
Into the green fields of this Farm:
Too late the blue sky, the heat of June.
Too late, this understanding.
Too easy, perhaps, for me to die, here, now, as she died
And as I just intended.
Should I - must I - live the agony of this knowledge,
To redeem what was to what might be:
Some words capturing the sun of her life which the clouds of illness

So I am crying, weeping, beating my fists into the earth
Here where the tall Oak shades the shallow pond:
No words of mine to express the tragedy of her life and beauty.

DW Myatt

In Memory of Fran, died May 29, 2006.