Selah, from Psalms and Habakkuk — to praise, to lift up, to weigh in the balances, to pause, or a purely musical notation. Biblical scholars debate the exact meaning. Selah, Nora Gould’s second poetry collection, is a sequence of fragments written in dialogue with all of these meanings. Stitched together, these fragments form a poem that runs from the ranch land of Alberta into the heart of a shared house and a shared life.
Selah is about living with a husband recently diagnosed with dementia; it’s about the looking back and the imagining forward, about saying what cannot be said — the wayfaring bush and its shadow. It’s about finding a way through all this: “The palette darker than I’d planned,” yes, but also shot through with humour and care, crafted with both frankness and decorum.
Praise for Selah:
“This poem never slips into sentimentality but it breaks the heart. The fragments are wind-scoured, they startle like a fox and coyote suddenly appearing against the snow, they leave their marks on you like hard work scars the hands. I love them.” — Lorna Crozier
“Nora Gould’s second collection, Selah, works with presence and absence: fingertips versus touch, the burrs of a long marriage vs. the voids of dementia, a beloved’s body vs. anatomical drawings. “Breathe,” Gould advises, in a voice that is stuffed full of hand-made quilts and rusty barbed wire, “There is air in the room.” Air enough for Gould to take on birth and illness, maturity and sadness and death: “If I outlive him, when he dies / my grief will be stillborn.” — Ariel Gordon
Telling the Body to the World: Three Recent Elegies — Canadian Literature