Thursday, July 10, 2008
"until the whole field is a white desire..."
by William Carlos Williams
Her body is not so white as
anemony petals nor so smooth—nor
so remote a thing. It is a field
of the wild carrot taking
the field by force; the grass
does not raise above it.
Here is no question of whiteness,
white as can be, with a purple mole
at the center of each flower.
Each flower is a hand’s span
of her whiteness. Wherever
his hand has lain there is
a tiny purple blemish. Each part
is a blossom under his touch
to which the fibres of her being
stem one by one, each to its end,
until the whole field is a
white desire, empty, a single stem,
a cluster, flower by flower,
a pious wish to whiteness gone over—
From The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume I, 1909-1939. Text via Poetry Foundation.
Woman on a Black Divan, Jean-Jacques Henner, 1865. Image from Wikimedia Commons.