Variations on a Theme

Queen Anne’s Lace
by William Carlos Williams

Her body is not so white as 

anemone 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 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 — 

or nothing.

Photos ©2012, Jen Payne; poem by William Carlos Williams.

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