"Alice Oswald's recent lecture linking water and grief and your invitation to consider literature's role in mourning and healing swirled together to remind me of these two short poems: the first, 'Teardrop' traces the path from life to death by the fall of a 'liquid body' while the second, 'The Sacred Philosophy of Rain' also tracing a drop of water, is more hopeful as the drop recycles to the cloud through evaporation, a metaphor for the continuous cycle of life."
A liquid body hangs
above her head
carrying doors banged shut
and red-ink hate mail
on official paper, snuck in
while she laboured.
A disco ball in the low sun,
silently growing, pregnant
with blades and needles
and sharp-cornered things
that threaten to yield to
the pull of the deep hole.
Strange how ‘grave’ looks
like ‘gravity,’ the cold that
sucks everything to its feet –
stars, tears, eyelids. We are
mere liquid bodies hanging
around, she muses, looking
up at it, her eye tracing
the outline, a noose. It falls,
as everything falls.
THE SACRED PHILOSOPHY OF RAIN
I am shaped suddenly, a raindrop in a gravid cloud.
My vertical journey is filled with sensations of life –
sights of smiling mountains risen like frozen deities,
starlings in murmuration dance, whiffs of pine and mint,
of peat-smoked barley, ripples that awaken my open eyes.
I am a brushstroke in a grey-brown landscape, a note
in a symphonic storm. Then, on cue, I crash. A perfect
chaotic moment that vibrates as I become the lake.
I am no longer a noose, but this is not a death, I become
unbroken, memory and expectation, a heaven where all is
rearranged before vapour takes flight, charged with
fingerprints to feed the cloud, ready for its water to break.
Athol Williams is a DPhil Candidate in Politics at the University of Oxford. You can learn more about him here.