Merryn Williams


That autumn the colours were exceptionally vivid,
everywhere, trees broke out in topaz, crimson,
flame; a huge moon rose over the ancient buildings,
and I thought I’d got over it, but I had not.

The colour scale stretched from snowberry to privet;
bryony, rosehip, spindle ran riot in hedgerows,
rare shades of purple, too; meanwhile, the red candles
of Lords and Ladies lit my dark passage home.

But I was back in a certain intensive care unit
whose doors were closed; I no longer had any reason
to go there. Unripe crab apples strewed the towpath
that autumn, and sloe berries set my teeth on edge.

I went to grammar school in Hastings in eleven-plus days, studied English at New Hall, Cambridge, and got a doctorate for my thesis on Thomas Hardy’s novels. After that I taught adult students for the Open University and the W.E.A., living for several years near Cranfield University where my husband worked as a physicist. I am literary adviser to the Wilfred Owen Association, having a great interest in the poets of the First World War. Shoestring have just published her The Fragile Bridge: New and Selected Poems.