dream wither


“dream wither” 175 x 105 cm, oil on canvas, 2022


Dream Wither

By Harper Walton


gills are just wounds that will never become scars 

sage is just green that will never become a forest 

grey is just night that has not yet fallen


the same hose pipe that revives flowers can strangle you 

I know because I’ve been the throat 

and the pipe 

and the flowers 


I’ve been dripping 

and the floor I dripped onto 


I’ve been spare paint, diamond hard 

crosshatched, lopsided, heart-shaped

a semi-lisp, a quaver, an unsketched batwing 


I am or have been 

a spring loaded something 

an unconsensual dandelion 

a colour so disgusting they could use me for tobacco pouches 

the opposite of a lone wolf born into a family of lone wolves 

a panic attack in the form of a bowl of spaghetti 

a focus that only exists because you’re not allowed to look away 

an arrow pointing to a world without arrows


I’ve scrutinised the world so meticulously 

that I have nothing left to discover 

except the insides of my eyelids 


but when I close them I still see you there 

a single splash of sky blue 

like a lake in a country

landlocked by invisible borders


I remember sabre-toothed anglerfish

and telegraph pole ladder horseshoes 

stapled onto wolf-black smoke


and a reaching that disgusts 

as all reaching must 


and blood stains if we lived in a world 

where we bled pink blood 


I remember blood with nothing to hide 

iron wool licking rust off blunt barbed wire 

stitches on a scar from a never-wound 


I saw a new colour birthed 

between the legs of pink and grey 


the only difference between I was and I saw 

is in the ordering


I was an unstretched canvas before 

the silent screech of your almost-mouth 

peeled out of the mass of me 

and I was transfigured into a train track centipede 

spiralling within itself 

a body on the line 

a werewolf living in a world with no full moon 

forever waning


wolf black is the darkest you get 

the darkest I will let you have 

the only break from the chaos of colour 

and the colour of chaos 

will be the breaking through of unpainted canvas 

the breaking of your mind 

just a brain without a soul 

a body without a home 

a wolf without a bone 

just a fur suit full of fluid 

pink blood that will never become red


words by Harper Walton