The Taking of the Wind

-Athol Williams


‘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