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Nan Williamson Poetry Collection

Nan Williamson Poetry Collection

– Poetry by Nan Williamson –


For Deborah 

The elevator stops at five   waiting room 
of the worried   mostly in twos  hands joined 
we sisters   a mother and son   young man 
and his lover   one sporting a toque or scarf

Low tones   whispers   We wait to hear 
the future in results   Intercom code alerts   
in calm and modulated voices   Deb   our sister
scans the room   bland   white   windowless   
only a life-sized anatomy chart of organs 
diseased   Overhead   rows of fluorescent tubes –
one that entombs black corpses of a couple of flies –
she informs us   with a fiendish crooked smile

Stripped of diversions and disguise – Steve Madden 
boots   cashmere sweater   her facade of “fine ”-
Deb’s standard answer to “How are you?”  is exposed   
Her private illness is made public now

At least   the waiting room was real   she said 
distress   and candour   a raw quality   unlike 
the daunting office party where she 
was the inconvenience in the room

colleagues  hailed her breezily   no eye contact 
as if she were the clown   in the miming act 
where you use your hands 
to define the cage you are in
now in bed  stalled by illness   she knew 
the gift of time   a rest from workplace talk   
life measured out in coffee spoons   
Time to ask what is it?  who am I?  does it matter?

Pain subdued   A mindful space   to watch 
the changing winter sky   snow-lined trees  
blackbirds   chickadees   see beauty 
in a copper pitcher’s curving lines
sketch the devil’s ivy in the window   
its satiny draping leaves  taste the perfect 
avocado with sea salt and fresh lime   
listen to the spare and gentle heart-songs 
of Satie  greet us each morning with a smile   
feel joy as winter sun lit up her bed
kiss   and laugh   and hug   and hug

When we at last let go   the wise 
ones say   we find ourselves   our end
is our beginning   gives structure to our lives.

That Easter Sunday morning her children harmonized
sang a cherished song  The Canticle of the Sun   
Her hand in mine   before the welcome lethal 
shot   face joyful as the needle entered    
Deb said she felt a dreaming vision   injected 
straight into her vein   as if she was finally 
bound somewhere   no more waiting

reconciled among the stars 

Poet’s Practice in these Times

There was a time    when you wrote
that autumn dazzled    struck our maple trees
and they were rich    deep red and golden leaves 
You said that early sunsets left them burning 
hectic just before the night

This year    the trees are sick    pathetic
fallacy   leaves wrinkled    crispy brown
shrivelled on the branch      they break 
from dried-out stems   falling into dusty piles 
when weak enough and withered

Now you write of nightmares   dark rentals of the soul     
foul play   conduct unbecoming    top brass 
behaving badly    covid’s daily deaths    
pandemic poverty     more floods and fires
and here and there   a Machiavelli    
who can smile and smile and be a villain

Outside there are sirens    someone’s been shot

Listen    you must still speak of the shadowy  
woman humming silky blue tunes by the night
window    of violets dappling the lawn    of lovers 
who somehow survive     and once again    without irony  
offer to the betrayed world    one persistent green
shoot that springs from a spent maple tree

heard in the shell

For D. after breast cancer diagnosis

sea waves rise and crash
inside my keepsake conch
dark panic swells
no mere intimations    but chaos
roaring in my ear 
prophetic shell    my skull’s blood
rushes out of control
this primal trumpet echoes fear

let me suck black seeds    glistening caviar
crush papaya    soft flesh in my mouth
this soft ripe globe    hold in your palm
cup the bruised apple 
circle areola with your thumb
crush it in your lips before the dawn

waking beside you    sun
on the morning bed    I dreamed
you saved me from the drowning waves
lift up the conch again    maybe
there’ll be new music in the shell
and you will hold it    let me hear 
today’s green song

About the Author – Nan Williamson
Nan Williamson

Nan Williamson is a teacher, artist and author living in Peterborough. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, Toronto, 2013. Her chapbook, leave the door open for the moon, was published by Jackson Creek Press in 2015. Always interested in the verbal-visual connection, she plays with shapes, colours, and texture to wed form and content in paint and poetry. More than 70 of her poems have been published in juried literary journals and anthologies in Canada, the US, and the UK. She is also the illustrator for Delicate Impact, a Canadian anthology of poetry, A Beret Days Book, The Ontario Poetry Society, 2018.

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The Identified Patient
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The Body as Poem
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This is What Death Does
Where Courage Lives
The Psychiatric Patient Profiled in My Application
Modern Medical Miracles
What the Mirror Says
Writing Myself Alive: An Episodic Poem
Breathing; Love These Lively Things

Oh Emma; Slow Dancing
In the Mirror, For My Mother

Zenstronomy: Zen of Instruction, Godma, Astrophysical Reality

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