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Adagio, One Throne Magazine

"Until We Meet Again" by Robert Dowling Jr.
© Do not reproduce without artist's permission.

by Sarah Feldman


Because the signs are piling up

again, the sparrows chasing each other

across the yard, the groundhog’s ascent

smooth and shadowless, and because

the way things are going, I seem to be leaving,

I wanted to say, before I forget,

that I was not miserable throughout the time

I spent in your world, not entirely.

I weptI refused I lay motionless but these, I can see

were only the instincts of a spoilt child, who, presented with some

strange and unwelcome supper, turns her face away

always expecting something else will be offered.

Or else I simply believed in the finality

of what I’d become in that darkness, having almost no basis

for comparison. When I drifted, letting spaces,

chairs, bodies soften into indistinguishable shadow,

when my fingernails bit red half-moons

on the inside flesh of a forearm, it was because I thought

I could not do otherwise though the opposite was also

true, that the further in I travelled, the more

I sometimes turned to find the way I’d come was wide

and only gently sloping. If I refused to acknowledge the tendrils

of light forcing themselves through the stiff clay

yet they did not stop coming; again and again

there were some three or four minutes in which I was nearly

content humming the Dance of the Blessed Spirits,

or gently untangling a few strands of hair but I closed my eyes. I kept

these things from you not by design or neglectbut by some part of me

that kept warning not to swallow, not to sleep, not to make concessions. I reserved

that ancient right of ambivalence and complaint which is the one defense

against false spring; my soul, having tended to elide its joys

taking flower for fruit and seed for feast, now learned distance. It is one thing

to be wrong about one’s suffering, to take for punishment or illness

what is only the natural constraint of the unravished heart

but to mistake happiness to choose in love

what will be thrust on one in any case, in life not once,

but over and over. Those criesyes, or enough, or, nothing

more than this what were they but the sound

of the forced soul giving over

the one thing left to it?


Sarah Feldman is a dual Canadian/American citizen whose imaginative landscape draws on both coastal British Columbia and the Connecticut River Valley. Some of her poems appear in the anthology Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry, edited by Robyn Sarah.

"Adagio" is excerpted from Feldman's forthcoming sequence, "Kore."  A second excerpt will appear in our fall issue, and a third will be published in winter.

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