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25 Oct 2022

Rae
Howells

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Nov 8th

She paints the wave

Oct 9th

After Maggi Hambling’s

Wave Returning

               water comes in

               drenches her bristle brush feet

               salts her sketchpad steeps it

               the sea the sea

               blue like turpentine the sea

               rushing around her frantic until she wants to get inside it

               be it

               breathe the toss slush roar over and over again

               shake the walls violent with it


               in come the waves different every day different every minute


               every morning sits in the opening eyelid of sunrise

               poised on her pencil’s axis with the wave clenched tightly to the tip

               she finds her heart washed up in the intertidal margin

               muscle salted in a surrender of seaweed cigarettes scallops

               that split second                 different waves different every day

               like falling in love with something over and over

               engulfed

               the wave the wave talking talking talking talking


               sometimes polite sometimes roaring sometimes the

               thick beastdrip howling on the brushtip


               blue black grey green white red

               a roar in her oily bones

               the seashell of her skull

               she rocks on gallery floorboards

               as they buck and roll eyes naked

               the walls shiver shatter disperse

               remembering each particular curve of each particular wave

               all her lovers in a series of portraits

               grieving setpieces never to be repeated

               painting the way they sound scream sing

               a gash of paint

               like that moment you crack open and fall in love

               rush and break and plummet and wings and over and over

               listening listening listening listening

               to the gull’s voice

               different every day different every minute

               time scouring the beach of her face

               the wave the wave the wave all her lovers

               on the end of her brush

               drowning

Behind the poem...

Maggi Hambling’s Wave Returning is a product of her obsession with waves – not ‘the sea’ as a generic mass, but capturing portraits of individual waves. The oil paintings she produced became an exhibition, and the movement she captured in her work resulted in one gallery attendant becoming so seasick she requested to be moved to another room. Hambling also set out to paint ‘the sound of the sea’ in her work. As a synaesthete, I found this idea of senses merging enormously appealling – it's what I try to do in my poetry.