THE LOST CHILD
When the channel of light through the mother's womb
becomes a channel of pain
the child cannot help but scream.
Imagine squeezing out
the moon through the throat of the universe.
Each night the moon's
blistering white light.
They had been taught to suffer and thus
Who can deny that light
falls on exposed skin.
When the glasses and plates
broke amidst screams
the child pressed the cat's head tighter.
Remember the day he shut
the car door on his thumb.
He made an unholy sound
as the thumb purpled and swelled.
It did not seem like justice
so much as the inevitable
when no one moved to help.
The daughter locked in the attic
exhaling a glittering cloud.
The daughter in the dark yard,
The pressure behind closed eyes.
The constantly dirty house.
The broken door and spitting.
The inability to trust.
The anger at the mother.
The doubt that one can be loved.
The disgust at one's own actions.
The inability to escape.
The loss that accompanies forgetting.
The realisation of loss.
The desperate attempt to remember.
As the little girl walked through snow
she was bundled in white light.
She came to the silver water,
lowered her lips to the cold,
sipped from a crack in the ice.
She changed into a white deer,
eyes blue as the eyes of Jesus
in the stained glass window of the church,
in the heart of the blue glass blue bird.
Light through clouds, through coloured glass.
Light through closed eyelids,
blue as glass.
Light of the glassy stars.
Light reflecting the frozen lake.
Light of the headlights on icy concrete.
Light of the moon, white light.
The night a black glass prism.
The night a baguette of gold.
The night unstrung from the underskirt.
The night of the last exhale.
The crystalline quiver of stars.
The breath of the dragging opossum.
The unsettling wish for mercy.
The car many miles off, away, uncertain,
Front tires coated in blood.
The brush of wings on earth.
The parking by the side of the road.
The smell of blood in the dark.
The slow upheaval of the gorge.
The glistering fire in the sky.
The distant vanity of cities.
The hand wiping the mouth.
The radio singing, 'My love,
Return to,' a torrent of sudden
Wind, the speeding bolt of truck,
The huff and then the dark.
Dark, this desire for space.
The wasteland stained star-white.
A lake speared with dead trees
Whose white trunks stab the sky.
The ribs of angels up.
The pillow, the cabochon, the gleam.
The fall slow as exile.
The air exhaling by.
The grit of sand on skin.
The hit and hit again.
The night whose mouth is wide.
The sleep that hands make ready.
The sin, and then the sacrifice.
The forgiveness of the light
Whose burning kiss is time.
Copyright JL Williams 2015
In September 2009 JL Williams journeyed to the Aeolian Isles to write a collection inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses called Condition of Fire, published by Shearsman Books in 2011. Her second collection, Locust and Marlin (Shearsman 2014), explores the idea of home and where we come from and was shortlisted for the 2014 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award. Her poetry has been translated into Greek, French, Spanish and Dutch and she has translated poetry from Spanish and Greek. JL Williams plays in the band Opul and is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library.