Sasha Dugdale

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Photo credit: Zima Zima

Sasha Dugdale (b. 1974) has published four collections of poetry, most recently Joy (Carcanet, 2017) which was a PBS Choice. The title poem ‘Joy’ won the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. She is a translator of Russian poetry and plays, and former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation. She is writer-in-residence at St John’s College, Cambridge.




The last day of your childhood

We go up to the green hills where you are at home

Look down on the buzzards

And the sludge-coloured winter valley

The loosening of frost has released it back into decomposition

And no colour is intact

It undoes itself in algae

And wealden agony which is a paler version of the Slavic

Like aging in comfort

I’m walking the dogs

But in a cellar in my mind I am rehearsing a scene

In which a woman takes her child to a wasteland

And abandons it

War is coming and she is in flight

I’m wondering about the difference in sensibility

Between this woman and me

I’m wondering about the imaginative difference

What I would be if the air was never still

And the horizon smoking

But the air is still

Apart from my prattling

How I like to seize the moment

Hold words to its throat like

Future and luck and hope

Words that are countless and

Without value

Expended like shells into an area

In which all life

Is extinguished

The only chance of life here

The only small hope is in the repeated

Movement of lung and heart

Your willingness to forgive

The loosening between us

Sussex, 22 January 2017