Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

The Slave Ship

William Virgil Davis

It is said that when Turner
visited the museum and saw
his painting on display, he
paused in front of it and spat
into the swirling clouds. Then,
with his bare hands, he smeared
his spittle into the sky above
the stricken ship floundering
in roiling water, slashed, laced
with bloody bodies and debris,
the whole scene in a blaze
of wild red and yellow light.


William Virgil Davis’s most recent book of poetry is Dismantlements of Silence: Poems Selected and New. His other books of poetry include Landscape and Journey, which won the New Criterion Poetry Prize and the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for Poetry, and 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 in the United States and abroad.