new zealand electronic poetry centre

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                                                               Martha Morseth

Ruth Dallas: first meeting

There are some moments you never forget. One afternoon I was standing in a Gardens New World queue and there she was, ahead of me. I’d been told she lived in the North End and I hoped some day to be able to tell her face to face how much I enjoyed her poetry. And now, here she was, an arm’s length away, concentrating on paying the cashier. Standing so close, I felt like an observer of an elusive wading bird, a stilt possibly or a heron.

As she gathered her groceries I took courage and asked if she was Ruth Dallas. She turned, looked confused, or was it bemused, and nodded yes. I blurted out my praise for her poetry, how I’d read it with my students, how they, too, loved it. She smiled, nodded, turned and disappeared. I wondered if I had made her feel exposed, made her feel compelled to hurry home to make a new nest, find a more secluded habitat.