Late last month, Don Poochigian died. He was a long-time faculty member at the University of North Dakota and served on the board of North Dakota Quarterly in the late 1970s (where his name was frequently misspelled Donald “Poochigan”).
He contributed an article to NDQ 48.2 (Spring 1980) titled “A Defense of Sovereignty,” and was a tireless advocate for the humanities at the University of North Dakota. The university offered an obituary here, but anyone who served on committees with him or shared Merrifield Hall with his animated voice and persona realized that there is much more to him than the various tributes present.
His son, Aaron Poochigian, an accomplished poet and translator, gave North Dakota Quarterly the honor of presenting this moving memorial to his father:
In memory of my father, Donald Poochigian, 1943—2017
Last month my Pops the Sage, the Brain, the Wiz,
waxed geometric, just between us guys:
“What is a point? A locus without size.
No length, no width, no depth, but there it is.”
By then the specialist in What Exists
had grown so shrunken he would not survive.
(The tapeworm tubing keeping him alive
seemed to be drinking life out through his wrists.)
I get it: skin and ticker, lung and joint,
we wither faster than we feel we should.
What learns to walk lies down again for good.
A rotten deal. But what about that point
void of affliction, misery and prayer?
No length, no width, no depth, but it is there.