In Memoriam Bronwyn Dodson
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the passing of one of my dearest friends, Bronwyn Dodson. We knew each other for four years, and her life was cut painfully short at the age of 22 in an automobile accident. She was among the most beautiful and talented souls I ever had the pleasure to have met, and to her I dedicated several works of mine. She, to me, was always best summed up in the poem "The Queen" by Neruda, which I set (in translation, something I never do) as the first of five songs in her honor (though I altered the tense of some of the words, changing "are"s to "were"s because she was no longer).
Bronwyn, I miss you daily, but especially on this day. Five years ago, which marked the decade of your passing, I neglected to commemorate you because the world had, a week before, dealt me a confusing blow and you got lost in the fog of war. This year, today, I think about you and smile: I miss your antics, drunken and otherwise; I miss our until-the-dawn phone conversations (those dorm room epiphanies one can only have at the age of 21); and I miss knowing what you would have become. Far too young, far too soon. I have no words...
I have named you queen
There were taller ones than you, taller.
There were purer ones than you, purer.
There were lovelier ones than you, lovelier.
But you are the queen.
When you walk through the streets
no one recognizes you.
No one sees your crystal crown, no one looks
at the carpet of red gold
that you tread as you pass,
the nonexistent carpet
And when you appear
all the river sound
in my body, bells
shake the sky,
and a hymn fills the world.
Only you and I,
only you and I, my love,
listen to it.
--Pablo Neruda, from The Captain's Verses