Category Archives: John Welch

So, there were those long walks of unravelling, where you went out with no fixed purpose, no special destination, seeking the space that is yourself. Maybe such vacancy was all you sought to lose, then find, your wish being to move through the city simply as a presence, stepping free of intentions and timetables, as if invited to a secret celebration.

– John Welch, from ‘There and Back’

And smile into my absence

In a sunlit corner of that city
Where I was and was not
I came upon someone fallen quiet
Who was myself and not myself.

Lifting his eyes he addressed me.
‘I am beside you now
Riding the breath but not staying.
What you need is this distraction.

When you wake the mirror clouds
With bloom of my exile breath.
You trace your name
And smile into my absence.’

– John Welch, from ‘Imagination and Dream’

An epiphany of absence

So, there were those long walks of unravelling, where you went out with no fixed purpose, no special destination, seeking the space that is yourself. Maybe such vacancy was all you sought to lose, then find, your wish being to move through the city simply as a presence, stepping free of intentions and timetables, as if invited to a secret celebration.

On some days it was too beautiful for you to be able to say anything at all, like foliage trapped behind glass. Until this February morning as you stand at an upstairs window, while all around a certain quite definite silence waits. Then it comes, that sense of being here and not here, all things chiming at once in an epiphany of absence, and for a moment you are quite lost in it.

– John Welch, from ‘There and Back’

A parable

‘I dreamed I had in front of me’, he wrote, ‘this marvellous text which contained the narrative of a number of my dreams. Each dream had been condensed into a separate phrase and it was these phrases, strung together, that formed the text. Every phrase was pregnant with possibilities and meanings of a magical kind. I was both admiring this text and trying to explain it to someone. The person I was explaining it to may have been Gerard de Nerval, or maybe in the dream I was Nerval. As I woke up, there was one phrase in my head, the only one I can now recall. It was “The scent of Cybele”. At that moment all I knew about this phrase was that it was not one of the phrases in the text I had dreamed.’

John Welch

Emergence

I came out from my hole, from my dust pit, from the rubble and rubbish of myself, like a worm coming out of the ground. I found myself in a field. In the centre of the field was a chair and a man seated on it maintaining a constant silence. The trees were undressing with sly secret smiles.

All roads are the same road. Destinations. We set out in different directions past fallen signposts. I prefer hilltops to valleys, clear views to a dark sleep, and the birds thrown up like a cloud of fertile dust. The sky sends me baffling directives — a twisted tree on the skyline and, when I reach it, the way the sunlight grows into the bark.

Making love, my alter ego waiting behind the screen, she is a mirror of my left side. If I rub her body some breath will cloud the glass. A column, a trunk covered in bark like lizard skin, this is how she was found, escaping from the tyranny of verse.

Behind a stilled screen of eyes bodies are marching down the street, more or less upright. The countryside has to be tamed with titles.

And now the desk is cleared for breath.

John Welch