My Last Mistress
My Last Mistress
Stallworthy, Jon. Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems. Manchester, England: Carcanet Press, 1998: 233-234.
1That's my last mistress on the easel. I
2call her 'The Fallen Picador'---and why?
3She lived ten years with the minotaur
4and deserved to leave with the honours of war,
5so when Vallauris last July declared
6me president of the corrida, I shared
7the honours with her. Seeing that the bull
8was my symbol, the horse her symbol,
9what end could be more fitting than that they
10should face each other in a ritual way---
11life imitating art, a masterpiece
12of living theatre?
13When I took my place
14in the president's box and raised my hand,
15she was the first out, scattering sand
16and with the hooves of her passaging horse
17determining my picture's lines of force.
18She circled the arena, reined in, bowed
19to me as president, and read aloud
20the proclamation in my honour. Then
21rode from the ring, leaving the bulls and men
22to face their deaths. There were no horses killed
23that day, but ever since my dreams are filled
24with goring. The result you see. Had she
25remained, unchanged, the girl who posed for me
26in the light of Liberation, hers
27would be a face the world remembers,
28a daughter of the sun, instead of this
30of woman into horse: familiar head
31and satin flank, the bull's head garlanded
33But enough of her.
34Here's something that I fancy you'll prefer---
35a necklace. Let me help. Look how your skin
36irradiates my metal from within.
37It fits that hollow better than its mould,
38my bull's horned head Chataganier cast in gold.
Publication Start Year
The Guest from the Future
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh