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beach litter
Slipped through the fi ngers of my writing-hand
Already in these dozen days or so --
The grove of winter trees, intaglio
Complete with twigs, carved in the hard smooth sand
(While the waves keep rushing in to land
In the old uproar) by the trickling backfl ow,
And running in fog, and the young pair who go
Down beach apart, I see the fellow stand
With his back to her while she with her eyes
Downward walks this way, that way -- coming in
I pass and hear her humming cheerfully,
And the cold light one dusk far out at sea
And the time I fi nished fast as if to win,
Some girl's clear laugh away down the beach the prize:
-- Or the man and the old woman seated at either end
Of a long bench that leans and sags rustily:
Though sudden raw weather has cleared the beach, and she
Is dressed none too warmly, she keeps with a thin hand
Her jacket collar closed and reads on as she'd planned,
It looks like, in an old paperback, all the while he
Dressed up as for a party -- a party refugee? --
Stares, with his elbows on his knees, at the cold sand:
Or the leopard seal lying long dead and swollen tight
Getting his spots changed for him, all right, by the sea
And the sea air: or that strong old man in serious thought,
Bareheaded, in a workman's clothes -- a machinist, maybe;
The last runner in, I met him stalking doggedly out
Between dark sea and cliff s in the fast-failing light.