Remembering Tessa Ransford, 1938–2015
When Gavin circulated the news
I shed a tear or two that early autumn day.
What else was there to say?
Like all my true friends
Tessa was good for me,
made me raise my game,
take my draft poems more seriously,
encouraged me not to chuck stuff away
before examining it properly, critically.
Our hinterlands were not dissimilar.
Fife and Edinburgh were common ground.
Tessa had German, I had French.
She had India, I had Africa.
The Second War had marked us both.
We’d both been subjected to boarding schools
where isolation hardened us, made us private.
Latterly, even while fending off decline
we managed to publish each other’s work.
But we knew we were living history.
Once at St Monans
in an empty churchyard by an ebbing sea
we sat in the heat of an afternoon sun,
Ted Ruddock, Tessa, and me,
listening to larks and the shingle’s song.
Tessa, you went ahead and shone a torch
for lots of us. Thank you for your example,
for forgiving my many feeble lapses,
and for all the little courtesies of friends.
7 September 2015