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Obituary for John Nowakowski

A poem by Timothy Scriven to remember John Nowakowski.

John Nowakowski

We address you now because we cannot address you.
We speak to you because you cannot answer
Two hundred,
Three hundred,
Voices are all jump started and twining round’ together
Crowding in together, sticking tightly, each to each with eyes or skin
Like cells clotting a wound, damming out-rushing humours
Filling a cavity with a very particular shape
Perhaps we are a motley militia of gay boys and polish mothers, shaking spears at death
(You’d like the sentiment of that, but not the intelligence)
Perhaps we are only grave-robbers, plundering memory, glorying in associations
(You’d shake your head but you’d forgive)
I think we’re your friends
(You’d agree, and call it indecent to over-think things)

You are not quite absent because we feel your absence solidly
(The paradox of loss?)
You are not the unremarkable stranger
(Not yet! Maybe never!)
You smile and wave at us, from behind our eyes
(We wish you were before them instead.)
More present now than in any one moment of life

I’m speaking in generalities
To avoid the particulars
I’m speaking of our reactions
So as not to think of their source
So I’ll just say it
I miss you

(For John)

John was a former president of both SUPRA and CAPA, the peak representative organisations for postgraduate students of the University of Sydney and Australia respectively. On January 15 John passed away as a result of complications arising from a lung infection and a long term illness.

Timothy Scriven is a postgraduate student representative at the University of Sydney and worked closely with John.

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