for Gwilym Williams


Pixels break a thousand spaces
where floating faces rise.

Sun clambers over hills
to a black cross.

That shines your eyes
back into it,

breathing in villages, towns, cities
mourning cemented onto walls.

Plumed objects placed in corners
looking back at us.



Your poems tell me
how you loved these lanes:

Primroses, brambles, lichen,
moss, birches thickening.

Walking to school, a prison
to a small boy with dirty knees

you chewed a pencil
until teeth touched lead.

Then something flecked
its ambition:

An inscape mediated
the inscribed hymn

of fire, hearth, light.
Patterns on water

unlocked a spell of belonging
homing into books.


The heart’s machine tells us
there is more than this.

But if we can, we return
wrestling with nostalgia.

The hurt of humanity,
its exoskelelton

branding the world,
stammering  untold prayers.

Yet you, I, we, they, believe
in something more:

Pan welaf athrofa y werin
yn uno fy nghenedl i gyd. 

Something that exceeds self
makes space for thought–

beyond the hardware
that litters our sky.

And in a village
a woman tells a child:

On his return he could not walk
into the kitchen.  

He asked for paraffin to douse
the lice that covered his body. 

Under a willow he stripped
before he could be touched.



(This poem was translated into Welsh by Ifor ap Glyn. Click here to read the translation)



About Nerys Williams

Originally from Carmarthenshire, Nerys is an Associate Professor in American Literature at University College Dublin and a Fulbright alumnus. She has written extensively on contemporary poetry and published  two collections of poetry Sound Archive (Seren, 2011) and Cabaret (New Dublin Press, 2017).  Nerys lives in Kells Co. Meath, Ireland, with her husband and daughter.

Back to Comissioned Poems