Poems by Nuala Watt

Nuala Watt. Photo by Chris Scott.

A Cognition Test; The Woman in Blue Draws a House.   
The house looks very sure.
It squats on the paper.
It must know what it is.
“What’s this dear?”
asks the woman in blue.
But surely she knows?
Unless she’s a circus person,
who lives in a Big Top,
not busy rehearsing today?
It can’t just be a house.
It must be a trick question
Can it fly? Are its windows pretending?
Are they really wings?




H  E


I scowl towards his voice. He says the map
marks how far vision goes. If I could creep

up close I’d learn the journey. His technique
restricts me to a chair so he can track

how far I travel down the chart alone
before I pause. I grope in the third line –

my limit the next shape I recognize –
then stop. No way. I still believe my eyes

can hold a solar system, catch all lights,
deliver to the doctor alphabets

as small as atoms. But this world is smudge.
I’m huddled at the bottom of the page,

trying to hide my dark. Wherever I am,
I’ve bypassed every symbol I can name

and stumble at my vision’s borders
where letters are illegible as stars.



“Quite good at moon, especially when it’s full”
I boast by text message, as though the moon’s
a new phase in my history.
My friend has asked if I can see its shape
in the bright dusk. Which image does she want?
 A lump of rock? A leaping lunar hare?
 Face? Crescent?  A leech lifting
light from the sun? I can’t say “Zilch,”
or that the only Moon I’m certain of
is a sort of Braille, and as I can’t read
the sky at night, the moon is a guessed space
where I am free to put whatever.
I suppose I could blame the weather,
but I still hope to see the official moon
above rush hour. I respond
as though to an ophthalmologist,
with a box of silver lenses,                                 
whose job it is to clarify my dark
and gauge the exact colour of my blackness.