A Separation / Stuart Dodds


These poems by Stuart Dodds were written in the months following the death of his wife of 30 years, Natasha Borovsky, and are dedicated to her.  Natasha died on May 31, 2012:


I   The House that Died

The front door of the house had been left ajar
as though a neighborhood meeting was in progress
and late-comers could slip in quietly—
carpets from Turkey and Afghanistan had been rolled up
and put away—
strangers had come and gone—

through the empty rooms
you could still hear a few determined footsteps on bare boards

officialdom had come in pairs
in black and navy blue
two paramedics, two policemen taking notes
two priests of deep voice and graceful signs
and two mortuary attendants
unfolding a starched white sheet
with the care and concentration of scholars
opening a rare manuscript

what on earth had happened?

a grey cat with blue eyes looked up searching for an explanation
and finding none
settled in for a night of silence


II     Color of Night

Are you feeling blue today?
she would tenderly ask
—it is rare to be loved—
she would adjust my tie
round out my paragraphs
say frankly what she meant

Now she’s gone
if something else should happen
an earthquake or a sudden storm
I think she would be at my side—
It’s strange but I think a sudden noise might do it
she would just appear

In her poem, she said she would wait for me
had merely gone on ahead—
to the place we’ve yet to name—
but didn’t mention these visits I am beginning to imagine—
it needn’t be a loud noise—
a china cup crashing on a stone floor
could bring her back today
some accident
some small interval of despair
it’s a thin wall that separates us
not planets and constellations
her voice is faint but close

She would break her vigil in the place to be named
not like a troubled ghost returning to bemoan its fate
more a kindly presence come to help
that knows its own mind
sees what is wrong and what has to be done
there will be no need for another catastrophe
they will be in the Fall—these visits—
when the wind is colder
and the leaves have turned bright red—
in death, she will become to me
what I was to her towards the end—
a protector


III     Grief

Could it ever be that I will remember you calmly
as I remember others who are no longer present
who are hidden from me
like portraits I once saw in a museum
or friends who are still alive
(friends I believe to be alive)
in other countries far and inaccessible?

Can I live in peace with a kindly apparition
in the house we loved?
thinking of you gone into exile—
waiting for me to follow

thinking you might return
to this excellent world
at the end of summer
when the leaves have turned scarlet and gold

thinking with my altered memory
of a time when we were together


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