I Wish Aretha Had Written ‘Paper Roses’

I say a little prayer in Leith where I am now,
which seems incongruous, full as it is
of drunk white men & Staffies
& me a fundamental atheist
but it isn’t really, when you think of it,
for you, Aretha Franklin.

Ach, you’re away & my dream
of inviting you to Rugby Park for a game,
the karaoke & a soul disco with liberal drinks
will never now be realised.
Your eyes tell me you’d probably have agreed
before your agent would advise me
that it’s Scotland, she’s Aretha, think.

We wouldn’t want a clash or fight
or ideological causement,
black or white, wrong or right, smile v style,
but I’d have picked you a thousand times
over Marie Osmond.

Your roses wouldn’t be paper,
they’d blossom longer than a season,
no country & western caper.
They’d spring still from burnished steel,
watered by the bare-knuckle ungloved
hot drops of both our unlikely worlds,
real & no mistaking love.

“The moment I wake up
Before I put on my make-up
I say a little pray for you.
While combing my hair now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer for you.”
No prayers required, Aretha.

– Stuart A. Paterson