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A poem of farewell

This poem has had a life all of its own. I originally wrote it for Ihakara Arthur, a much-loved man who was retiring. Since then it has appeared in some unexpected places, including some funerals.


What is left to say?
All the large words
have been spoken.
I’d take one of the
smallest words, like love,
wrap it in a warm breath,
tie it in a knot of flax,
and leave it, nonchalantly
on your papers.
A small green leaf
among the river stones.
Don’t throw it out
by accident, or crush it.
Put it in your pocket
where its touch
might sometimes
warm your fingers.

New Zealand Love Poems, Oxford, 2000