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Old Bosham Bird Watch (for Jud)

Lee Harwood



out of nothing comes...


nothing comes out of nothing


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a small room, in a building of small rooms. “Enclosed thus”. Outside

there are bare trees groaning and twisting in the wind. A cold

long road with houses either side that finally leads down hill to a

railway station. The Exit.




Out on the estuary four people in a small dinghy at high tide. Canada

geese and oyster catchers around. The pale winter sunlight and cold

clear air. Onshore the village church contains the tomb of Canute’ s

daughter, the black Sussex raven emblazoned an the stone.

Small rooms.




Sat round a fire. The black Saxon raven rampant.


In the dream.


Enclosed, I reach out. She moves in her ways that the facts of

closeness, familiarity, obscure. Our not quite knowing one another

in that sense of clear distance, that sense that comes with distance,

like old photos making everything so set, clear, and easily under-

stood - so we think.


Face to face the changes flicking by second by second. Not the face

fixed that yes I know her. Not the easy sum of qualities.




How long since you’ve known who you are? How long? Why who

you? Don’t know. Long time. Only have old photos, old images,

old ikons peeling. That man who lived at X, did Y, travelled to Z,

and back, “The Lone Gent”?


Why, who was that masked man? Why, don’t you know?


NO !




In the closeness that comes with shared actions. From keeping a

ream clean, keeping old clothes clean, cooking a meal to be eaten

by the both of us. In Thai: closeness, maybe on the edge of loosing

something gaining something. Questions of clarity and recognitions.




We swing hard a-port then let the current take us, the ebb tide

pulling us out towards the Channel. The birds about, the colours

of the sky, the waters, all the different plants growing beside the

estuary, and the heavy brown ploughed fields behind these banks.

Here, more than anywhere else, every thing, all becomes beautitul

and exciting - and the fact of being alive at such moments,

being filled with this Immense beauty, right, Rilke, “ecstasy”,

makes the fact of living immeasurably precious.




Enclosed by cold in the winter. The clear sharp days walking down

hill looking out to sea, the wind up, the waves crashing on the

shingle beaches. And the days of rain and harsh grey skies, coming

home from work in the dark through the car lights and shop lights.

The exit always there. I can’t say I “know” you. But neither can I

say what “knowing” is. We are here, and somehow It works, our

being together.



The sky, the gulls wheeling and squawking above, the flint walls of

these South Saxon churches, the yew trees branching up into that

winter sky. I know these. But not what you’re thinking, what anyone

is thinking. I can never know that, only work with that - as it comes.

Open arms open air come clear.




The dinghy is brought ashore. The people drag it up the bank and

carry it to the cottage where they stow it neatly. Everything “ship shape”


Out to sea the coasters head for Shoreham and Newhaven. Along

the coast small blue trains rattle along through Chichester,

Littlehampton, Worthing, and on to Brighton.


The fire is stoked up in the small roam. The people in the cottage

all eat dinner together, are happy in one another’s company.

That I love you, we know this, parting the branches and ferns as

we push on through the wood.


From Oasis No 15 (1976)