Find our latest news and guidance surrounding the COVID-19 crisis here.

Skip Content

And on the seventh day

A poem by William Ayot

God knows, it’s easy enough to point the finger.

We’re all churchwardens when we read the papers.

Disgust and self-righteousness are par for the course

on a slow suburban Sunday morning.

But at night,

when the tom-cats of loneliness call, and things

that live on secrets stretch themselves and stir.

Then dapper little accountants from Wimbledon

reach for the phone with a trembling hand

to whisper obscenities to part-time women

who yawn as they do it for them – do it all night.

Then salesmen, surveyors and warehousemen,

plasterers and clerks and the occasional priest,

the meek and the mild and the simply ordinary,

step into the neon-twisted light, blinking

and gulping and slowly transforming themselves

into leather-clad predators or hungry-angry lads.

Then the Chairman, the Chief, the public man,

waits in his car at the edge of the Common,

or walks among the silent, cruising shadows,

risking the world for a moment of excitement,

for a buzz that his daylight self can’t allow.

And somewhere in the bushes, with his heart

in his mouth, stands a man whom we nod to

or smile at in the supermarket. And he’s scared

and excited and feeling foolish, as he waits there,

naked but for a raincoat. And he’s not too sure

why he’s there again, or why the siren voices

should have brought him back. But he’s back

and he’s driven to show himself to a woman

who may vomit when she sees what he is doing,

or hurry by in shame, or scream for the police.

And the rest of him will sit on Sunday morning,

flicking through the usual spread of crucifixions.

And once again he’ll feel that little pang of envy

when he reads about the sinners who can rest.


About the author

Poet, authorWilliam Ayot is an award-winning poet, author and teacher. Writing includes the play Bengal Lancer,  three collections of poetry, and Re-enchanting the Forest: Meaningful Ritual in a Secular World. William teaches and coaches in organisations and is currently poet-in-residence at Oxford University Saïd Business School. He creates rituals for individuals and groups, and leads workshops on the use of poetry and ritual for psychotherapists and counsellors.



From ‘Small Things that Matter’
© William Ayot
more poems on

Back to: SPECIAL FEATURE: StopSo tackling sexual abuse in the 21st century

This article is part of a special feature section produced with the organisation StopSo, looking at the issues raised by working with both sex offenders and survivors. Views expressed are those of the author not UKCP.