Janet Frame died 12 years ago today
on the 29th January 2004
at Dunedin Hospital, from leukaemia.
She died, alert and conscious, comforted in the arms of loved ones.
This beautiful tribute to Janet Frame was first published on the 30th January 2004 in the Dominion Post and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the artist Tom Scott.
'Small Farewell' by Janet Frame
Writing letters of goodbye
we are inclined to say
because we have read
or heard it said
or knew someone who likewise went away
that small details pester the memory.
In the corner closet of your eye
in the back room of seeing
that looks out on the backyard of yesterday
who can pretend to say
what you will muffle in moth balls
or soak with insect spray
to stop the spread of memory’s decay?
I think all I can say
from hearing a ghost speak in a Shakespeare play
is, if you were Hamlet, and I your father’s ghost,
['Small Farewell' was first published posthumously in The Goose Bath, Random House NZ, 2006. Janet Frame's Selected Poems are available in the collection Storms Will Tell, Bloodaxe, 2008.]