Sharon Dolin

The Loneliness of His Death
January 24, 2019 Dolin Sharon

The loneliness of his death, the death of his loneliness
—Yehuda Amichai


I like to think there’s a place where all the poets go
who died too young. They’re lounging together on
rattan chairs like those in Limbo—the suicides,

the cancer-riven, the bulleted—sharing lines &
demitasses of absinthe espresso. Now that nothing
is forbidden, they talk freely of their lives below:

how this one would have remarried, that one would have
shot him instead. They hear their lines repeated backwards
to them, garbled as through a barrel of water:

I loved him to death / He was the death of my love.
To roam on rooftops occurred to me / O the ochre rooftops of Rome.
Here they pair up and imagine alternate deaths, alternate lives.

She takes his hand and they jump from the hood of one cloud
to the next, compressing their spirit-bones that won’t break.
Arriving in slow procession all afternoon: the poems

they had no time to write. A lion pads over to scratch the lines
of his extinction in the dirt. A man whose saffron chest ribs
form a body-harp invites her to thrum her song through him:

O time of my despair, in my next life may I be spared by time.

Sharon Dolin is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Manual for Living (2016) and Whirlwind (2012) both from the University of Pittsburgh Press. The poem “Embryo” is taken from Dolin’s book-length translation-in-progress, Late to the House of Words: Selected Poems of Gemma Gorga. Her translation from Catalan of Gemma Gorga’s Book of Minutes is forthcoming from the Field Translation Series (Oberlin University Press) in 2019. The recipient of a 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant, she directs and teaches in Writing About Art in Barcelona each June.