Rossetti’s Preliminary Sketch of Elizabeth Siddal as Beata Beatrix

by Stephen Gibson

When she posed as Beatrice, she probably
wasn’t thinking he would use this sketch of her
posthumously for the painting because she’d
have overdosed, so much drugs in her future
she’d be taking a hundred drops from the dropper

at a time—that’s what he’d testify at the inquiry
into her death the night he wasn’t with her
and came home and found her; she probably
wasn’t thinking too much about the future
when she posed,

that she’d blame the opium in laudanum for her daughter’s
stillbirth or that her husband would be with a younger her
that night; nothing was final in a sketch—no certainty
when she posed.