Death on the West Coast
(Sophie Toscan du Plantier July 28, 1957-December 23, 1996)
Her foot is caught in the snare of old Ireland
& you know that she is soon the stuff of
legend & the ground will love her too
much to let her leave, the rough tides always
clawing at her door, her story integral to his.
Some might say she was doomed soon
as her storm made land for that solitary Christmas
as if she had climbed on to a Bronte moor
as if each clock hand had stopped & pointed
to this place & hour
& the storms & the sea & the castles
had all conspired to claim their own —
her day world nothing but a trifle &
she an element abruptly taken home.
It is true — the human hand may kill but
powers & principalities set the scene.
If only someone had understood how easy it is to die
on the threshold of personal &
archetypal lives, the romantic bound
to mystic lands, hoisted by the gods
adored yet ill-prepared, the lighter she appeared
the more darkness fell. I am convinced those Fates —
— those envious sisters, crept along that coast,
straight from rehearsals for The Scottish Play
inbound & ever in alliance with the French
& drawn to the beacon of her shining beauty.
Oh! how its dance blazed across her face in almost
every photograph & you could see how they chose
a killer who might have wanted it for himself
drawn by his narrow longing towards her vast spirit.
Let it wash clean the violence that shook him —
as if a man can be redeemed simply by association.
Beauty alone heals the soul’s malaise — if only she would let
him bathe in her waters for a single hour
even if he could never fully comprehend.
But there this mystery takes its leave, she
at once aether & land, her mythological life
as Mann said, showing the soul at maturation
yet raising the ire of ordinary men.
Copyright Simon Heathcote