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Natalya Nikolayevna Goncharov

Don Coles
From:   The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse. ed. Margaret Atwood, Oxford University Press, 1982, p 277

(she will marry, on February 18, 1831, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin)

Another of the placid beauties!
Whose mother flaunts her before
The poet — clamberer among words,
His monkey-trellis of language,
Toxic dexterity. It is all he has.
Le pauvre, c'est déjà trop.
Her white skin, if he would stop
Here where others have but, ah,
Imperial softnesses in her blouse,
The swelling, shaded baskers. Who
Could ask for more? Than two? Hear
How last year's irreverence now
Falls short. His words against
That same constraining silk
Her soft body butts — of course
It's no contest. Inside her head,
Not a sound. Instead, a shape,
Shapes within shapes, her stately
Shoulders, a mirrored torso half-
Turns, ripples whitely. These forms
Both mimic and predict his dreams,
Which have no other guides. Try
Arguing with that. Her thighs,
Proffered, see, see, on the low divan
Where they stream. They are endless
As Homer. The light slides on them,
Firmpacked emblems, serene martyrs.
To pour images is fine, drowning however
Is no joke. Onegin, of course, had
The same problem. Or think of,
Inside his huge story,
Pierre Bézuhov: Hélène, brainless,
As he knew, but mitigatingly
Décolletaged, bending towards him
Over the dinner-table, déesse! World-
Altering. And now Natalya Nikolayevna
Offers her word-monkey "Her whole body
Only veiled by her grey gown." At which
All roads out of his place —
Gone! Until death! Because
What a place it is, for a poet.
"Her whole body" — and all of it
Dumb. Amazing. No rhymes
But are his own. Odalisque,
. All directions to this
Lavish property, his. Such
White abundance. Her thighs. She
"Doesn't like poetry." When they.
When she opens them. Ah. The Church.
Bless it. Soon. Can she talk?

Don Coles's works copyright © to the author.

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