Three Poems by Patrick Williamson

After the Hurricane

An owl roost once,
above badgers burrowing into leaf mould
like roaming beggars;
cracking twig, scuffle, the snuffles
of creatures who take no notice of your stature,
and scurry on
until, raised in anger, the wind
struck you down, no crown
for you, helpless, staring at the skies.

Nobody to the busy busy men
bent & intent on their business
on their way home, not looking back,
not stopping to lift you up,
cloak you with charity,
repair the fabric being eaten away.

Looking Back

Years later I hear you got caught in a tsunami,
had to rush for your life up into the hills.
Life was going on without me, struggling
to get something out of these old words.
I once pulled you from your safe uni room,

I gave you garnets and emeralds. Together,
vibrant in a silence my heart only knew,
we ate our last supper in final-minute streets:
a diner set to close, a bottle waxed red and green.

I was a wild man, rising from the pool,
manhood in me bearded, pearl in my ear;
the hole long since healed. Shaven, grey,
I am no longer so impetuous, too many burdens.

I crouched in the cathedral nave, waiting
for your word, with other solitary souls; a sanctuary
that was, in cloistered gardens. I watched
a sparrow peck at crumbs in the cold: a snapshot
it is forever perched on a café windowsill.

This is in brief celebration of spirits drawn together
then parted, this is for the ghosts of our lives
then and your chestnut eyes, southern tongue searching
for my island’s cold stream, then fleeing in the night
among the blossom and the hope my fear dashed.

The Level Crossing

When the train passes, it sometimes
takes your breath away,
and behind an opaque window

the ashes are thrown on fields,
in rivers, in ponds,
every day they find a new trial.

I saw the train that seemed
to break the horizon,
make love with the wind,

but under shower room ceilings,
it’s all very banal,
they open the trap, you gasp

when the sun rises on each trip,
sooner or later,
you will have to come back.


Patrick Williamson is an English poet. Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications). Recent poetry collections: Beneficato, Tiens ta langue/Hold your tongue, Gifted (Corrupt Press), Nel Santuario (Menzione speciale della Giuria in the XV Concorso Guido Gozzano, 2014).

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