I picked this book up many years ago — 1984 — and have since read other collections of his. I love his evocative writing and the clarity of his lines and phrases.
As noted on the back cover: “The poems in Williamson’s first collection have a rare spiritual brilliance, combining a rich attention to atmospheres and moods with the powerful, emotional qualities of American autobiographical narrative poetry in the tradition of Lowell and Crane.”
From “Friends Who Have Failed,” my favorite.
They leave from positions of strength, like all baroque
civilizations; leave the statues we cannot imagine moving
for heaviness caught in their skirts…
We watch their gestures grow finer and more nervous
in the widening air.
They are the best judges of wine; talk always at the glittering edges
of things, the terrible auras…The afternoons in their homes
hang upside down, like objects seen through wine.
Their footfalls die an inch away in the carpet.
Presence, Alan Williamson, Knopf, 1983.