William Virgil Davis: Three Poems




A long tanned leg

reaches feelingly

from the passenger

side of a black SUV


and braces itself

against the opened

door, the muscles

tightening the calf,


the toes pointed,

stretched. For some

time there is nothing

else, but then, as the leg


drops down to the

ground, her skirt riding

up over the knee and

thigh, the woman steps


from the vehicle in

a black dress, her back

turned, and walks

wonderingly away.





The chairs and tables had been arranged

in a semi-circle. They were covered

with beaded rain like little islands,

glistening, reflecting light. The place

was deserted. All the chairs were unoccupied,

except for one that had been pulled

over into a corner, under an overhang

out of the rain. In it an old woman

in a sweater and tennis shoes sat

clutching a paper sack in her folded

arms, her head slumped forward on her

chest. Near her a lone pigeon with a

damaged wing backed against the building,

jerking its head from side to side,

constantly turning around. It eyed

the old woman occasionally. The rain

was likely to begin again before long.





A week before, I’d waited to welcome

her. We had everything planned to take

advantage of this scrap of time stolen

for one another from our otherwise


proper lives that left no room for what

we had together. How quickly it was over

—that week that seemed like life itself.


And now we stood, together and alone,

as separated as before. “It’s been a wonderful

week,” she said. Then, quickly, “See me


out of sight.” I did. And then I stood

a while to watch as the air emptied again.

Only later that night did I hear how,

just an hour away, her plane had flamed


and fallen from the sky. 



William Virgil Davis’s most recent book of poetry is Dismantlements of Silence: Poems Selected and New (2015). He has published five other books of poetry: The Bones Poems; Landscape and Journey, which won the New Criterion Poetry Prize and the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for Poetry; Winter Light; The Dark Hours, which won the Calliope Press Chapbook Prize; One Way to Reconstruct the Scene, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. His poems have appeared in most of the major periodicals, here and abroad, including Poetry, The Nation, Hudson Review, Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, New Criterion, Sewanee Review, Atlantic Monthly, TriQuarterly, Harvard Review, Hopkins Review, Southwest Review, and Southern Review among many others.