Lovable Medical Alien


The dust-gathering illuminated in spindles 
of light, these little radiances the air told, held 
Corin’s eyes, and he felt with all the medical 
anomalies of his body their weight and pushed on. 
The fields of the earth — grass, electromagnetic, 

furzy yellow hills with trapped thistledown, 
paddy, hockey, vector, any — imparted their mass 
through the pale skin of his feet. His albino 
eyebrows grimaced, and he pushed on. 
That his stories had more suffering than 

yours, that his baritone on the telephone was more 
professional or quietly more kind, that he was more 
open-handed and wide-sleeved, or that he could 
hover like a butler — though unaloof, candid from 
the experience of living’s tenuousness and careful 

from the same — that he had read more, thought 
more, saw, understood and remembered more 
in his nocturnal eyes and that he remained sad, 
wise, foolish and joyous in his many tragicomedies, 
and pushed on, was all proof’s pessimistic 

pudding-skin to me that he was and is an alien 
and a saint, an archetype and a terrifying fable. 
The hospital corridors blink. In full moonlight, 
the university registries shuffle in discomfort. 
All the clown faces, clipboards, bad news and 

hallways he pushed through are red, panting. 
Shuffling at the keys, Corin’s hydrangea hands typed 
tiny crevices into the world, holes that sigh about 
light, dust, the textures of surfaces, the seeded waves 
of music. It is a small condolence to have his voice. ​



Nick Ascroft is a Dunedin poet in exile. He has published two collections of poetry with Victoria University Press, was the 2003 Burns Fellow, and will release a book on five-a-side soccer-slash-football with Bloomsbury in 2016.