The Convalescent (for L.)




Shade, you:
bleached communicant
deep in introspective

Amorphous shape-shifter,
a muffled interlocutor
padding around,
                   flailing at ablutions.

As you slowly materialise,
a small mammal
                   burrows through your brain:

Thou hast nor youth nor age;
But as it were an after-dinner’s sleep,
                             Dreaming on both . . .

So you nurse your own
                             patient healing
in that twilight state,

snoozing through noon’s drift

                             like the sloth.




Bruised fuselage
                                      drying out;
fractured installation
          tarrying for your

                   season of wholeness.

Waiting for the acidic
          after-tastes to neutralise,

& those flavours to reify
          on your etherised tongue.

You have a fatigue
          deeper than Hades;
your calves have the
                   consistency of iron,

but you plough on
          through the snow-fields,
attempt to cultivate         

          seeds of a lost fecundity.

Stumble through the
          quotidian, as you nest

                   these enfeebled ashes.

Finally nudge through
          your makeshift cocoon
as you assume

          embryo of the Admiral.




          flaky substantive,
you who continue
                                      to surprise us.

Your sickly well-being
          has the beneficent retch
                             which purges.

As a tragedian plays
                   divine physician,
sublimates pity & terror                  

                             for cathartic purposes,

so you ply your craft
          with a patient adroitness

          which never disappoints.

You who are the midwife
                   coaxing out life
from the pain-site
                             of body putrescence.

Always splitting
                   the umbilical,
finely balanced
                             between the dead

                             & the quick.

For you always exist
                   in that grand state
          of nascence: a one-woman

          from agony
                             of an incoherent age.

You who long ago
                   learnt the humble
                             arts of regeneration,

have always known
          that the sanatorium

          is, simultaneously,
                             the womb of fortitude.


You ur-shade you,
          fumbling with your

                             deep-set communicant,

commune now
                   with another
          fleshed-out shade

                             who’s also bled through . . .






Mark Wilson
Painting Gwen John

Mark Wilson has published four poetry collections: Quartet For the End of Time (Editions du Zaporogue, 2011), Passio (Editions du Zaporogue, 2013), The Angel of History (Leaky Boot Press, 2013) and Illuminations (Leaky Boot Press, 2016). He is also the author of a verse-drama, One Eucalyptus Seed, about the arrest and incarceration of Ezra Pound after World War Two. His poems and articles have appeared in: The Black Herald, The Shop, 3:AM Magazine, International Times, The Fiend, Epignosis Quarterly, Dodging the Rain, The Ekphrastic Review and Le Zaporogue.

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