Lee Harwood has lived by the sea in Brighton for many years. His recent books are Collected Poems (2004) and Selected Poems (2008) both from Shearsman.
It all comes back to Vassilis Tsitsanis
It’s near quiet in the empty room at night.
Maybe the sound of distant cars
or rain beating on the window.
“Welcome to the orphanage.”
In the forest a darkness that’s
edged by moonlight now
the showers have passed, leaving
a damp chill on the faint track
that reaches a gate and open country.
“Where are the orphans’ toys kept?”
In silence the shooting stars fly over
the nearby mountains.
A building in the distance, with
rain beating on its windows? As mystified
as I. And then when morning comes
the walk down to the shore. Banks
of grey clouds low over a grey sea.
To think back to a cloudy Sunday,
the necessary code in the words sung.
“You make my heart bleed
…I can’t find a moment’s peace.”*
Photos of burnt villages and the few
inhabitants when the lorries have gone.
“Fear overshadowed everything” he said.
While a long way away the toys and books
piled in a cupboard, undisturbed for now.
“Now, say ‘thank you’ nicely.”
Alone in the noisy corridors
the child, as though sleepwalking,
other children running by, moves towards
the cupboard and then his room.
Clouds bringing rain. A distant
*From Tsitsanis song Cloudy Sunday, written in Athens 1943-44.
[‘It all comes back to Vassilis Tsitsanis’ first appeared in The Orchid Boat (Enitharmon, 2014).]
Back to The Needlewriters’ Companion