Three Poems

Hugo Williams

Walk Out to Winter

Are we dead, do you think? I thought we were
when I visited your art school annexe
and saw your things all over the floor.
Someone had nailed a dress to a board
and thrown a pot of paint at it.
We left the flowers on your desk
and went for a walk near the reservoir.

The different sets of broken promises
lay in wait for us on the muddy path.
What was I really doing last Friday?
Why didn’t you leave a message about today?
Water hovered on the brink of ice
like an eye suddenly clouding over.
Alibis dragged themselves out of the mire.

I remembered a book I had read once
which tells you what to do after you die:
stay calm, accept what has happened.
Then we went for a coffee in the Union Bar
and talked about our life together.
I watched from a great distance
as you lifted the cup to your lips.

A Boiled Egg

I lie in bed as long as possible,
having eaten my breakfast the night before.
I scribble something on my blanket
with an index finger,
then cross it out again.
Heat stand guard
in case I try to make a break for it.

It’s summer and the flesh hangs
heavy on the bone.
Cars heave themselves forward
over traffic humps, like canoes.
The rush hour comes and goes.

Is there any other breakfast
than porridge, cereal, or toast
with a boiled egg?
If you’ve had one of them the night before
and run out of something,
it isn’t the same, you can’t think straight.

I tried to imagine a kind of breakfast
made of oatmeal, sugar and milk
that wasn’t porridge.
If I have a bath and wash my hair,
can I go to bed with you for two hours?
I promise to sleep all the time.

The Perfect Word

I thought of the perfect word
to describe your way of leaving,
how you performed the trick
of opening a door
and making yourself
pass through it into the street.

The word recalled exactly
how a piece of wood on a hinge
had passed through an angle
of forty-five degrees,
then closed again behind you,
showing you not there.