M.L. Williams

Winter Morning and Ceci n’est pas un pot
October 25, 2020 Williams M.L.

Winter Morning
I can easily imagine someone always doubting before he opened his front door whether
an abyss did not yawn behind it . . . .
—Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 84
Rinse the coffee cup,
set it in the sink
beside the crumbed plate,
adjust your dark
collar, your coat, your
phone, yes, sun
in the back window
a flood off the late
winter snow, flood
of light and you know
it will be cracking
cold, the icicles yet
to find their slow drip,
light a blue trick
like a surgeon’s lamp
when the anesthesia
wears off, to go out
and clear the driveway,
to scrape the glass
through halos of breath,
each magpie a night
in itself beyond
the stone threshold,
its burden of pain,
but first, the door.

Ceci n’est pas un pot

But what if one insisted on saying that there must also be something boiling in the
picture of the pot?

—Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations 297


The old forger might have laughed,
had he lived long enough to see
his youthful face on the 500 franc note,
recalling, after the war, printing his own
bank notes, painting fake Picassos,
adding de Chirico town squares to the mounting sum
of de Chirico squares just to stay alive.
“This is,” he might have said, “my face.”
“This,” he might have said, “is not my face.”


“What is in the pot, Rene?”
Sheila coyly asks. Steam
rises, or perhaps blows
a fierce whistle. He
has planned all afternoon
to offer her a cup of tea
with sugar or a boiled
potato with butter and salt
to keep her a little longer—
his wife away on social calls—
to talk of art, or nothing at all.
“Nothing,” he answers. “It is
my upturned derby pouring out
desire. It is the river Sambre,
where my mother drowned.”

M. L. Williams is author of the forthcoming collection Game (What Books Press), the chapbook Other Medicines and co-editor of How Much Earth: The Fresno Poets. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including most recently Hubbub, Salt, Western Humanities Review, Miramar, The Journal of Florida Studies, The Cortland Review, Live Encounters Poetry, and Stone, River, Sky. He teaches creative writing and contemporary literature at Valdosta State University.