For Dennis O’Driscoll 1954-2012
You’d have known of her but most of all her work,
and I never got to tell you how harried she was after
that reading, distracted and flushed but she kindly
agreed to sign something and crack a characteristically
dry joke in what was a third language for her.
Something of a imbiber about her and vaguely legendary
– more so in her youth and affirmed later by another
poet in her delegation. A scent of perspiration
ghosted her leaving. She would relinquish
within two years, alone in her subsidised apartment
a consequence of a lifetime of complications,
nursing the bottle and the muse. Acclaim, in the shape
of a sculpted archangel, had already arrived –
presented to her by the Cultural Ministry for her lifetime’s
contribution but it came without, she wistfully remarked,
any monetary contribution of its own. And yet the angel
was granted a place on the mantelpiece. When a trickle
of international invites arrived, she graciously accepted
and read in rather grand rooms which were mostly empty,
endured the long speeches with good grace and was glad
however late, to be simply abroad. Then, there was talk
of her most popular poem (a youthful one she privately
disowned) being cast in bronze until an unseemly dispute
broke out on the radio as to where it should be situated.
In the end her words still wait for the foundry.
Joseph Woods has published three award-winning collections of poetry and now lives in Rangoon, Burma.