Thursday, January 17, 2013

Poetry in motion

As I mentioned on my Facebook page, I recently had an email about one of Harvey's poems from Ruth Arnison, of Poems in the Waiting Room. It's an arts in health charity, based in Dunedin.
     "Our aim is to provide a free source of well-chosen poetry for patients waiting for medical appointments, rest home residents waiting for meals, outings or appointments, hospice patients and their families and prison inmates. The poetry cards, A4 sized three-fold cards, feature between eight and ten poems. New editions of the cards are printed and distributed every season. Poems include those from contemporary poets (especially New Zealand writers), older poems, a haiku, and poems for children. They are selected for readers’ enjoyment and are in no way a vehicle for delivering any social/health messages. The cards may be read and left on site or taken away for sharing or further reading."
      Ruth wanted to use "Giverny in Autumn" for a new card. Of course I immediately said yes - Harvey would have been delighted. She wrote back telling me why she'd chosen it: "I spent a month in Italy and France two years ago and Giverny was the highlight of my trip. When I came across Harvey's poem I was immediately back on that famous green bridge - how poetry can transport one."
      We went to France in 1999. Staying in Rouen, we'd arranged to meet two English friends, who came all the way from London to see us for the weekend. They had their car, and suggested going to Giverny on the Sunday. We were so lucky - it was 31 October, the last day Monet's house and garden was open to the public. But it was fine, and we wandered around hardly believing we were actually there. Our friends took our photo on the bridge.

I wrote an article about Giverny later for Next magazine, and Harvey wrote his poem.

     Giverny in Autumn 

     This boy knew
     the grace of willows
     weeping light into the Avon.

     At Giverny similar
     willows trail fluent
     through quiescent water 
     flecked by a few  late water-lilies.

     A frog on a pad.
     no princess to hand
     the figure's disappearance
     from the artist's canvas.

     Up close, mere daubs
     of paint - tactile texture -
     but in vista how they shape
     into a space, a green bridge
     reflections, clouds as they
     were at the turn of the century
     as they are now at its end.

     The calligraphy of a place
     the copious confusion of autumn leaves.

                        from Recessional, 2004

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Another year

How long is it since Harvey died? I know, of course, that it was two years ago and that today I began my third year without him; but at some times it feels like yesterday and at others it feels as if I've been without him for a very long time. 
          People keep telling me how well I'm doing, and on the whole I think I am. Going to Auckland for Christmas resulted, as I thought it would, in my being too caught up in the full-on family Christmas at my sister's to sink into sadness, though at the same time I knew they were conscious what this time of year meant for me, and intent on taking care of me. And as soon as I got back I had the great pleasure of a visit from my niece (well, Harvey's niece really, but I always think of her as mine) and her fiance. This time next year I'll be on my way down south for their wedding. In the meantime, I've got plenty of other absorbing things to look forward to - including the launch in March of my food memoir e-book, which is partly a tribute to Harvey and our life together.
           So as this new year begins, I hope that anyone reading this who has experienced the loss of a beloved partner recently will take heart from knowing that it does slowly become easier to cope with, and that simply staying alive gives way (for most of the time, at least) to living your life as best you can.