Poems by Eley Williams
To blow the clock faceless
and count the birds until we run out of numbers.
The starlings, the dandelion seeds —
blown seeds and birds skeining,
hazing the sky and mazing it into
It strains our dawnliness, our winching irises.
(The sky was never really grey but filled
with birds’ paths and wishful seeds.)
Skies as something meddled or bletted, or ripe, or wished-not.
No-one writes about hearts anymore, I thought, as I blew it, or:
I glanced to my right and wished to remember
glabella, lunulae and the other gentle, Latinate difficulties of your sleeping.
A tomorrow dedicated to falling still, then, or falling, still
without a need for further calculation.
To wish to find a second draft of you
in the morning, and to love it all the more.
Too breakable to be a constellation,
too tough to not be worth wishing upon;
the heart as a crowd of birds seemingly unled
or maybe, perhaps, ut, subjunctive conditional clause
a cloud-folly of seeds blasted by one of countless breaths,
a wished-upon clock, hissing cogwork with no regard for time nor hands.
Flocking has no purpose other than
the clotting, the thrilling, the thrumming;
a flock as gathered ellipses rather than lines of wing
and/or bone and/or beak,
more puff than flower
Whichever. I will bring you this grey network to wish at
with unmannerly grammar (that’s all breath is)
and watch some hopeless collaboration of birds
above us burst flowers,
all shouting doggerel at the sunlight.
You make the world marvellous
and other simple things
so say C’mere once more
and make all my former pauses busy
as uncounted leaderless birds,
not blown apart but twisting, softly,
warming even the widest skies.
La Tour des Cèdres
We spent the afternoon tracing Lichtenberg figures along greening stone,
patting the faults of buildings dry putting words into each other’s mouths —
the way that a bird feeds a smaller bird never unimportant.
The building was either discrete or discreet
— I can never remember which is right —
and your teeth existed only as an allegory of efficiency
as you bit into the cathedral wall.
Rain’s sebum on the café window;
later, you’ll insist on using the word smaragdine.
I cannot be seen to query it directly
— we are realising that one of us is an idiot —
but I suspect that the g and the d in that word are in too close proximity
for something not-yellow to handle.
I would not have words catch in our throats. Not here
above my eyes where all comes excerpted and fleet.
Between mouthfuls of each other and cathedrals,
you imply that I am being very quiet.
These are the only two facts that I can ever remember:
(this is a Swiss fact)
it is illegal to own a single guinea pig
— these animals are prone to loneliness —
(this is not always a Swiss fact)
you remember all facts, and you are greater for it
and your shoulders are broader for it
and with armfuls of stolen plants and stonework in our teeth we agree
to find the notions of buildings ungainly but understandable.
This week, I find that you are particularly interested in moss
so I am getting into moss, and into surfaces generally.
About the poet
Eley Williams is a writer living in Ealing. Winner of the Christopher Tower poetry prize (2005) and twice shortlisted for The White Review's Short Story Prize, she is co-editor for fiction at 3:AM magazine and has a collection of prose forthcoming from Influx Press. She works as a lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London.