‘Are you angry?’ it whispers, the faceless head,
in no direction. I don’t know its language
but I understand. Everything has morphed,
like this is the after in a before-and-after warp,
perhaps a car accident. ‘Why have you come?’
I whisper. I’m looking down at the ground;
the bulbous head is tilted forward so I assume
it is doing the same. I don’t know this ground
that looks like chocolate cake batter sprinkled
with chocolate chips. The tree said brahihlac
when I listened closely – the taking of the wind.
The air is perfectly still, there is no wind here.
We’re standing side-by-side looking down,
staring at the ground. The faceless alien’s
woman-like body is covered in scales of
radiant colours, symmetrical mosaic patterns
in constant motion. The scales wave in
varying formations, like a vast forest of flowers
dancing to arias of a choir of cross-winds.
But there is no wind here. ‘Are you afraid?’
I hear it ask. Everything is still, frozen.
It is a planet, lying there on the ground.
We’re both staring at it as though looking
at roadkill. But it’s a planet, spherical, a white
landmass with blue oceans. It too seems frozen,
the seas not dripping onto the chocolate cake.
‘Did you do this?’ I blabber. Do what?
I think to myself, as if I’m asking a puppy
if it has dropped a stool on my rug. What am
I asking? I am standing on some outer-space-type
ground, speaking to a faceless alien wrapped
in a psychedelic suit of live rainbow maggots,
and I am asking whether it did this. Did what,
shrunk the earth and placed it here? But,
how can that be the earth? How can that
be the earth when I am standing on earth?
Of course, I’m not on earth, never have been.
‘You think there’s another?’ my comrade
whispers as though to avoid being discovered.
Everything else is silent, not even a hint
of any wind.
Athol Williams is a South African poet currently completing a PhD in Political Philosophy at Oxford University. He has published four books of poetry, received four literary awards and had poems published in over forty literary publications internationally. Athol holds graduate degrees from Harvard, MIT, LSE, London Business School and Oxford.
This article was featured in Matter Thoughts Issue 1 – Horizons