Loss isn’t liminal; it’s omnipresent. Every exhale is a small death. Margaree, NS poet Susan Paddon examines grief with grace and heart in Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths, a book-length series of poems written by a devastated and devoted daughter who obsessively reads the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov, while tending to her mother, who is dying of pulmonary fibrosis.
In the poem, “That Old Season,” Paddon writes, grief-stricken, almost as if to give direction on how to live after incomprehensible loss: “Yes, I will get better and throw myself into things. I will, on occasion, take pills to breathe.”
While the Chekhov family and the poet chart the lagoon of death, there is a unity in their respective grieving. It is within poetry; there is comfort –a landmass to cling to. Paddon’s debut is both deeply tragic, and profoundly poetic, a testament to life and death as one equal force.
Two Tragedies In 429 Breaths
By Susan Paddon
$20.00, paperback, 96 pp.
Brick Books, August 2014