Point me at the stars, Noel Williams
Indigo Dreams, 2018 £6.00
This pamphlet does so much with ‘stars’, the little word that slips among the poems in different guises.
Light pollution is reducing the number of stars visible to the naked eye, so what better metaphor for the intensity of first love than this? The light of stars, remembered, in all their forms — once brilliant, now gone. Shooting stars, comets, constellations, galaxies, the Pole star, all the names — Williams celebrates their glitter and the thrill of sharing, an image for a new relationship.
In ‘Astronomer’s astrology’, for example —
We stare, scared those stars have perfected the sky
so any word will suck the light away.
In the past of galaxies our present kindles,
expanding us from this point to every possible edge,
the sky a bride rolling over in her sleep,
shaking confetti to dark sheets.
Both halves of the relationship at the heart of these poems are awestruck and very much in touch with the reality of love. It’s this balance that drives the pamphlet. Not all of us are astronomers but most of us will recognise the heart-stopping emotion of new love. Williams uses one to show the other:
But my love is Proxima Centauri:
the nearest star, the warmest light,
the first touch in the darkness,
the closest thing to the sun at night.
Stars enter Williams’ poems in other ways too, making their poetic links less directly. In ‘Night-scented stock’, for instance, he is a child sowing seeds with his mother, forgetting what they have sown, until ‘Another argument sent me out to clouds / and the flooding scent of starlight.’
In ‘Domestic bliss’, his mother stares from the house to ‘the starry blaze of daisies on the lawn’.
In ‘Appreciating physics’ a girl has ‘nails glinting the zodiac’.
For Williams, stars are everywhere.
Perhaps the many sightings of shooting stars and meteor showers should prepare us for the ending of the relationship (from ‘Nocturne with lake and astronomer’) —
Although the lens is cracked now
arousing twisted rainbows on the periphery
I still count stars
as one by one each bursts.
Whatever happens to us — to our relationships — the stars will continue.
D A Prince