2 minutes reading time (392 words)

POET GOES MISSING

It happens all the time, like a book you know is there but can’t find on the shelves.

This time it was Paul Lee who went missing. He died in October, before his last Sphinx review had even been posted. I knew he had been in hospital, I knew he had been ill, because his wife and fellow poet-reviewer Emma Lee, had told me.

But I wasn’t expecting him to go. For all its inevitability, death is rarely an expected visitor, and Paul’s absence continues to be troubling. I went to look for him in back copies of Smiths Knoll, because I think that’s where I first found him, though now I’m not entirely sure. I found other poets there who have also gone missing. One by one we mortals trickle away.

The poem I was looking for was in issue 28, 2002. Though I liked many of Paul's poems after that, this is the one I always remembered. It is about the sea and the waves are “white hurrahs”. What a gloriously energetic poem it is!

Perhaps I can be forgiven for typing 'Wave Dance' in here. I had forgotten (we remember poems but we forget so much about them) that in this poem the speaking voice is collective, the voice of the waves themselves. I’m reminded suddenly of Wordsworth’s “rolled round in earth’s diurnal course / With rocks and stones and trees” – an image of Lucy’s death which always struck me as colossally uncomfortable. I had the wrong mental image completely.

And yet, in the great recycling of ourselves, Paul is in the waves, and here he is in this poem:

Wave Dance
Sea Wall, Dawlish

Charge to the sea wall, slap it hard, roll back
.............................with the swell and merge. . .

Charge to the sea wall, slap it hard, roll back with the swell,
meet the next wave charging in, present your crest
and make high fives, pass on through back
.............................with the swell and merge. . .

Charge to the sea wall, slap it hard, roll back with the swell,
meet the next wave charging in, slap it hard
with white hurrahs, recoil to the sea wall, cuff its base,
roll back with the swell and merge. . .

Charge to the sea wall, slap it hard, roll back
.............................with the swell and merge. . .

SUBMISSIONS AND DECISIONS
THE POINT OF POETRY FESTIVALS
 

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Tuesday, 15 October 2019