Stella of Rose Street
(in memory of Stella Cartwright, 1937-1985)
“Dear George, it is so strange, our souls seem to fly together joyously over mountains and seas while each of us in our mutual way suffers agonies.”
"An orgasm with Miss Cartwright was metaphysical, transcendental, like nothing else you can ever imagine. She seemed built for love."
(Stanley Roger Green)
“You placed me on a pedestal / according to my lights / but what you didn’t know, my dear / I have no head for heights.”
It was so much gabble,
fantasies of genius in the Little Kremlin.
Once, I fell for it myself,
tottering along the red carpet,
poetry dribbling into my own vomit,
or maybe it was Hugh’s,
all mixed up
in the whisky of empty promises.
I talked in Milne’s Bar to a shop steward
who’d help build MacDiarmid’s bog.
He said the workmen had their tea in Grieve’s posh wee cups
and saw the reckoning in the leaves.
He yapped as auld poets glowered from their photos
and we downed chilled ale
to drown the memories of a Juniper Green girl
with a pint of that Muse again.
They must have seen joy in you our Stella
to wrench them from their word play,
to take a lovely shag to brighten up their anxious lines.
Och the happiness and the pain
that smiler with the knife
come to get us all.
And that lonely honey George
must have driven you nuts
romancing you in the Pentland Hills
and kissing you full on your lips
one damp Saturday afternoon
by the Water of Leith.
They say ‘the best poem is silence’
but you were a shriek in the ecstasy
of loving and of agony,
a naked drunken howl.
The saintly saviour of hurt animals
and a shopper for the sick,
you wanted to wrap yourself around
something you could trust,
wanted a photograph of a true poetry lover
held to your lovely breasts
to make a change from the piss
of Milne’s Bar
and the daily Abbotsford drivel.
What you found was madness in a Zimmer Frame at thirty,
splashes of alcohol and tears lit
by the sudden flashes of beautiful orgasms,
the sunshine today
in all the muck
along Rose Street.
Keith Armstrong © 2017