Sweet William

The book on gardens is inconclusive, in the margin maintains that

A battle rages concerning the origin of the plant’s name: Saint William

Of York versus Prince William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland versus

William the Conqueror. I have my own


The book is right on one count: it

Will fill in quickly. One morning, a stranger’s truck veers to the opposite shoulder

Speaks?), glances off a boulder, flips but lands right side up in a ravine.

Following some other trajectory in time—

A nice feature with plants,

Unless they spread too close to your house. I couldn’t get out. I was first on the scene

As the driver slid out bloody and stunned. I was on my way to the abortion,

That kind of occurrence,

Nobody believes. There he lay. To be reminded,

And then to see how many others passed, because they couldn’t see the accident
below, while I urgently waved for anyone else

To stop. Of all things or occurrences,

A laundry truck pulled over, and without hesitation—

At its best—

Shrink-wrapped bundles of bleached towels headed for a university were spilled

To cover him. Plant. Clean, but nothing delicate about it

Out there. He shook from shock. I asked him his name. “Bill,” he said.

Not William, more highly regarded.

He blubbered, “This isn’t the first time this has happened.”

“Shh, shh,” I said, “it doesn’t matter.” What matters is that you’re alive.”

I had to get going. I had to make that appointment.


Scott Withiam’s work has recently appeared in Agni, AGNI Online, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review, Ploughshares, and Tar River Poetry Review. And in TLR The Tides.

TLR Worst Team Money Could Buy
Simen Johan, Untitled #118, 2003. From the series “Breeding Ground” Digital C-Print. (c) Simen Johan. Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, NY

This poem was originally published in TLR The Worst Team Money Could Buy.