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In Memoriam Hilda Padel (1919-2017)

Ruth Padel
September 28

Be with me at this window      world of the half-seen.
Everything still      like a hung valley after a gunshot
or my mind      numb     for months after her death.
The wind has dropped. Angles of shutter and floor
are opening out      we are sideways on
to everything we knew     scumbling along as normal
with everything changed     silence buzzing in our ears. 

Objects we have chosen to live our lives among
a painting     a stripey rug (or is it a flight
of stairs to a half-landing?)     brown
as the beech-woods she used to play in as a child
     are nearly out of sight
but the world is full of light      and the Andalusian glass
usually its own translucent turquoise      suddenly wild
with roses and the slant ink of their stalks. 

Pink! Never her colour. But she’d allow it in a rose.
A good pink she’d say      as long as it smelled good too.
The open window is an exit wound
(she was always there at the end of a phone)
     joining outside to in
and her presence     now      the oval of soft grass
where a hare was sleeping a moment ago. 

Yellow plums scatter on the table. Dark will come
but we can celebrate     as she would      this gold light
on fresh-picked flowers      and a green-blue vase
answered by the distant sea’s blue-green. 

And the body nowhere      free to go      into the air
between      flushed petals and a wash of rose
on the shutter      the street below      gauze cloud
and the Bay of Angels dazzle of indigo. 


Ruth Padel
meet the author

Ruth Padel

Ruth Padel is a British poet, author of Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth on harmony and conflict in the Middle East, the bestselling Darwin – A Life in Poems, a verse biography of her great-great-grandfather Charles Darwin, and Emerald, a lyrical exploration of the search [...]