Friday, December 23, 2011

Getting ready

Since my little rant last week (which everyone was so nice about!), quite a lot has happened. Harvey's plaque ceremony went very well indeed. After dire forecasts for rain and gale force winds earlier in the week, it was cold but, thank heaven, fine. We read poems and spoke about him and walked home to have lunch together, and I thought "what a great group of friends". Here are the two poems I read. The first one, by Harvey, came at the beginning. It's the final one from his book "Room", which had a poem for each room in the first house we bought together.

Beyond the laundry clutter, out the back
patio, pumpkin, borage, ginger lily,
compost, worms, bees, snails,
cats, sparrows,
the bank held temporary by ivy and convolvulus
once a tui called to check the flax.

There is room for everything.

“Patrick, Jonathan, Ina, Rae & Colin,
we are gathered today at Anne & Harvey’s
home to witness & celebrate their marriage.”

Folly, magnificence the whole thing,
dew on cobwebs,
paint peeling off the house,
mortared brick,
any fresh start
spinning satellites defying common sense,
The embrace of a place
                              & one another.

The second one, by Janet Frame, I read at the end. The evening before, I had picked up Harvey's last anthology, These I Have Loved, and the book just seemed to fall open at this poem.

Janet Frame

If poets die young
they bequeath two thirds of their life to the critics
to graze and grow fat in
visionary grass

If poets die in old age
they live their own lives
they write their own poems
they are their own might-have-beens.

Young dead poets are prized comets.
The critics queue with their empty wagons ready for hitching.

Old living poets
stay faithfully camouflaged in their own sky.
It may even be forgotten they have been shining for so long.
The reminder comes upon their falling
extinguished into the earth.
The sky is empty, the sun and moon have gone away,
there are not enough street bulbs, glow-worms, fireflies to give light

and for a time it seems there will be no more stars.

Since Sunday, I have remembered that Harvey loved Christmas, and I'll do my best to enjoy it as much as possible. So now the house is full of flowers, and tomorrow night I'll put up the crib with the figures my son painted for me years ago. Here's how it was for Harvey's last Christmas in 2009. Thank you for reading my blog this year, and I hope that over the next week, you all have the best time you possibly can, with the people you love.


  1. I can't say anything to help you through tomorrow - it will be a hard hard day, but amidst all the Christmas activity, I will think of you and send you courage and kind thoughts.

  2. Thinking of you while we celebrate Christmas in Christchurch. Hope there are some quiet delights in your day and that memories of Harvey are sweet. Lots of love, Annie.