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To Tony Van Der Poorten

Autumn deluded the grass
on Clapham Common
to grow as in the spring,
vivid as a green parrot,
and the flame colours
creeping through the trees
seemed to add extra energy.
So many visitors walked this way
to see you in the hospice

When I first came
you too were fierily alive,
and lucid as the blue October sky.
From your bed you master-minded
all the details of Ofelia's meeting -
leaflets, mailshots, bossed us all about.
I learned more about the things you'd done.
We had long talks about your native Sri Lanka,
Mexico, printing, the future.

Straight from the press
I brought you my translation,
dedicated to you, of Marcos' Zapatista Stories.
You were overjoyed and wept:
'No one has ever dedicated a book
to me before,' you said.
'It's been my life. It's been my life.'
Your own fierce dedication was encouragement.

The last time I saw you,
you were wandering away
and now you've gone.
Now your ashes will nourish
the soil of Belize,
become food for the trees
where indigenous parrots fly
and indigenous peoples strive to live free.

You'll become earth of our Earth
where humanity's multiple worlds
have their only home. As this planet
turns more years round the sun,
through London autumn and spring,
tropical rain and dry season,
you will be present in many minds
as part of the fabric of hope,
not of delusion.

Dinah Livingstone

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