Postcards from the War Hospital

by Robert Peake


The leaves are silvering
in a patch of sun,
the gray leaves, catching light.

I have run out of topics
for dreaming, so I make them up:
each morning, a new lie.

The sister of Patience
is Suffering. Gray wool skirts,
a nurse’s cap. The end of ends.

Nothing more prismatic than
a pirate film at the matinee:
dust in a shaft of light.

Under the dragon’s tongue,
a tiny pebble of black saliva.
Each of us, our ignominies.

The leaves are sleeping
in a patch of darkness.
Let them. They have earned it.

The war. Always the war.
We will run out of morphine soon.
The radio flickers indifferently.

Cold morning. Cold night.
In between: the radiator
groaning like a sore old man.

If I lose the leg, another
will sprout in its place.
I will walk upon the air.

The leaves are decomposing.
Unseen creatures eat away.
The gangrene has come back.

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