William Carlos Williams

Romance Moderne

Tracks of rain and light linger in 
the spongy greens of a nature whose 
flickering mountain—bulging nearer, 
ebbing back into the sun 
hollowing itself away to hold a lake,— 
or brown stream rising and falling at the roadside, turning about, 
churning itself white, drawing 
green in over it,—plunging glassy funnels 

    And—the other world—
the windshield a blunt barrier: 
Talk to me. Sh! they would hear us. 
—the backs of their heads facing us—
The stream continues its motion of 
a hound running over rough ground. 

Trees vanish—reappear—vanish: 
detached dance of gnomes—as a talk 
dodging remarks, glows and fades. 
—The unseen power of words— 
And now that a few of the moves 
are clear the first desire is 
to fling oneself out at the side into 
the other dance, to other music. 

Peer Gynt. Rip Van Winkle. Diana. 
If I were young I would try a new alignment—
alight nimbly from the car, Good-bye!— 
Childhood companions linked two and two 
criss-cross: four, three, two, one. 
Back into self, tentacles withdrawn. 
Feel about in warm self-flesh. 
Since childhood, since childhood! 
Childhood is a toad in the garden, a 
happy toad. All toads are happy 
and belong in gardens. A toad to Diana! 

Lean forward. Punch the steerman 
behind the ear. Twirl the wheel! 
Over the edge! Screams! Crash! 
The end. I sit above my head—
a little removed—or 
a thin wash of rain on the roadway 
—I am never afraid when he is driving,—
interposes new direction, 
rides us sidewise, unforseen 
into the ditch! All threads cut! 
Death! Black. The end. The very end—

I would sit separate weighing a 
small red handful: the dirt of these parts, 
sliding mists sheeting the alders 
against the touch of fingers creeping 
to mine. All stuff of the blind emotions. 
But—stirred, the eye seizes 
for the first time—The eye awake!—
anything, a dirt bank with green stars 
of scrawny weed flattened upon it under 
a weight of air—For the first time!—
or a yawning depth: Big! 
Swim around in it, through it— 
all directions and find 
vitreous seawater stuff— 
God how I love you!—or, as I say, 
a plunge into the ditch. The End. I sit 
examining my red handful. Balancing 
—this—in and out—agh. 

Love you? It's 
a fire in the blood, willy-nilly! 
It's the sun coming up in the morning. 
Ha, but it's the grey moon too, already up 
in the morning. You are slow. 
Men are not friends where it concerns 
a woman? Fighters. Playfellows. 
White round thighs! Youth! Sighs—! 
It's the fillip of novelty. It's—

Mountains. Elephants humping along 
against the sky—indifferent to 
light withdrawing its tattered shreds, 
worn out with embraces. It's 
the fillip of novelty. It's a fire in the blood. 

Oh get a flannel shirt, white flannel 
or pongee. You'd look so well! 
I married you because I liked your nose. 
I wanted you! I wanted you 
in spite of all they'd say—

Rain and light, mountain and rain, 
rain and river. Will you love me always? 
—A car overturned and two crushed bodies 
under it.—Always! Always! 
And the white moon already up. 
White. Clean. All the colors. 
A good head, backed by the eye--awake! 
backed by the emotions—blind— 
River and mountain, light and rain—or 
rain, rock, light, trees—divided: 
rain-light counter rocks-trees or 
trees counter rain-light-rocks or— 

Myriads of counter processions 
crossing and recrossing, regaining 
the advantage, buying here, selling there 
—You are sold cheap everywhere in town!—
lingering, touching fingers, withdrawing 
gathering forces into blares, hummocks, 
peaks and rivers--rivers meeting rock 
—I wish that you were lying there dead 
and I sitting here beside you.—
It's the grey moon—over and over. 
It's the clay of these parts. 

spoken = Leon Branton