15 September 2008

Frame: Up is heaven, down is ocean



The NZ Listener published three poems with the kind permission of the Janet Frame Literary Trust, which was set up in 1999 to provide financial support to New Zealand writers.

Speaking for the trust, Pamela Gordon – Janet’s niece – says the literary executors are striving to “heed the wishes of the angel at our table” in making available poems from the “treasure trove of unpublished poetry that Janet had entrusted to me before her death, asking me to make sure that it would be published posthumously”.

The End

At the end

I have to move my sight up or down.

The path stops here.

Up is heaven, down is ocean

or, more simply, sky and sea rivalling

in welcome, crying Fly (or Drown) in me.

I have always found it hard to resist an invitation

especially when I have come to a dead end

a

dead

end.


The trees that grow along cliff-faces,

having suffered much from weather, put out thorns

taste of salt

ignore leaf-perm and polish:

hags under matted white hair

parcels of salt with the string tangled;

underneath

thumping the earth with their rebellious root-foot

trying to knock up

peace

out of her deep sleep.


I suppose, here, at the end, if I put out a path upon the air

I could walk on it, continue my life;

a plastic carpet, tight-rope style

but I’ve nothing beyond the end to hitch it to,

I can’t see into the mist around the ocean;

I shall have to change to a bird or a fish.

I can’t camp here at the end.

I wouldn’t survive

unless returning to a mythical time

I became a tree

toothless with my eyes full of salt spray;

rooted, protesting on the edge of this cliff

– Let me stay!

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