The Seaside – Lee Harwood

(for Peter Ruppell)

You wrote such a love poem that I was
dumb-founded & left to scratch the sand
Alone in the surf I couldn’t join the bait-diggers
I’d left my fork and bucket at home
& I am not rough by nature

You were sitting on top of a boulder deep in the forest
It was taller than a man & surrounded by pine trees
I think there are pine trees on Fire Island
but I’ve never been to Fire Island, though
I can imagine & we all know what could happen

there, but. . . . . . .
& the world that started in a parked car
was really a fearful one — It would only lead
from one confusion to another
& I couldn’t do this to you on the giant highway

She was a reason in herself, & women need
the menace of ambiguity in their actions
so one action might well signify the opposite
— an act of sacrifice really the act of killing & revenge —
& this much was true

The exercise book was green & the distance
saved much embarrassment though you were
in many ways ignorant of this
I still can’t find my bucket & bait-fork
but this is only an excuse 

The Final Painting – Lee Harwood

The white cloud passed over the land
there is sea always round the land
the sky is blue always above the cloud
the cloud in the blue continues to move
– nothing is limited by the canvas or frame –
the white cloud can be pictured like any
other clouds or like a fist of wool
or a white fur rose
The white cloud passes a shadow across
the landscape and so there is a passing greyness
The grey and the white both envelop
the watcher until he too is drawn into the picture
It is all a journey from a room through a door
down stairs and out into the street
The cloud could possess the house
The watchers have a mutual confidence
with the approaching string of white clouds
It is beyond spoken words what they are
silently mouthing to the sky
There was no mystery in this – only the firm
outline of people in overcoats on a hillside
and the line of clouds above them
The sky is blue The cloud white with touches
of grey – the rest – the landscape below –
can be left to the imagination
The whole painting quietly dissolved itself
into its surrounding clouds