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Liz at 60 (San Francisco Chronicle 2/28/92)

Peter Dale Scott
From:   Murmur of the Stars: Selected Shorter Poems. Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1994, 130; published in U.S. as Crossing Borders: Selected Shorter Poems. New York: New Directions, 1994, 129.


Seeing you
in your enormous bouffant
no one has ever slept in
your face wide-eyed and masklike
as Mickey Mouse behind you
at the portals of Disneyland
opening to the tune
of "When You Wish Upon a Star"


it is hard to remember
how each of us felt
you so fragile
with pure possibility
as you leant to your horse's neck
in National Velvet
the war almost over
your sex hidden in your jockey outfit

I watching with concern
from the back of the audience
throbbed with intensity
reserved for adolescence
at the deep bond created
by our dreams for the future

and would have written you
to explain how much we shared
had not that gross address HOLLYWOOD
separated us like a sword
where others would have read
my verses to you first
and not have understood

so we grew apart
I could see in that Albee play
as you bad-mouthed your drunk husband
Richard Burton (who by the way
I had met once when hitch-hiking
from outside Denham up to Oxford
you were right he wasn't good enough for you)
life had treated you cruelly
as he gave up Stratford
for the profits from B-movies
the high dreams dissolved
in higher-proof alcohol

now we have traded
that undeveloped future
for California's wealth
of malls and parking lots
I cannot retrieve those nights
I lay awake imagining
us walking together
innocently as two deer
through the lost autumn roadways
of the abandoned Laurentians
north of Montreal
now all fenced and gated
in vacation properties

we still need the word dream
if only for this
innocent hysteria
of a sixtieth birthday party
Dress for Fun, Jeans
Tres Casual
your guests
saying this is fabulous

and I see clearly
in the prodigious efforts of your face
to become timeless
as if in a mirror
this relentless exchange
of dreams for identity
life as fabulous
each of us imprisoned
in our Disneyland
of absurd efforts
to achieve remembrance

rather than confront
the ultimate question What
if there is nothing else?




Peter Dale Scott's works copyright © to the author.


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