rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,


The gibbous moon reveals the landscape, but the details are subdued. The dark trees are joined by their outstretched shadow selves, flattened and hinting only of the color of whatever they lie upon— vague green of lawn, gray of cement, black of asphalt, brown of the leaves the trees have already lost. The moon-lent shades of the living leaves are covering the actual dead, lying upon them like translucent shrouds.

Last night at this time it was all cracking thunder and flashes of lightning, and the rain soaking the dark ground. The unexpected storm was as violent as tonight's moonlight is placid. The shadows were brief and flickering, and what light reached the ground shimmered on the raindrops and rivulets and slicked pavements. Changeable autumn, always reminding me how, no matter how much nights do lengthen, each remains fleeting.

Sunday Verse

After Lucretius

by John Burnside

Nam quodcumque suis mutatum finibus exit,
Continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante,



It happens from time to time,
on days like this

—in winter, when the air is cold
and still,

the boats at the harbour
perched on their wooden stocks,

the gaps between the houses
filled with light—

it happens that I think of all
the vanishings I learned about in childhood:

that ship they found at sea,
unanchored, blind,

the table set for lunch, the galley
filling with steam;

the blank of the lamp-room
at Flannan, where they found

no sign of the men
who were waiting to be relieved;

the boy from a northern village, going out
at daybreak, to get kindling for a fire,

a line of footprints
stopping in the woods

and gradually erased
by morning snow.

When they speak about angels in books
I think what they mean is this sudden

arrival at somewhere else
through a rift in the fabric,

this glimpse of the absence that forms
between two lives

—and it comes as no surprise, on days like this,
alone in the house, or walking on the shore

at evening, that I'll stop dead and recall
the disappearances my childhood self

never quite engineered,
or how it is a legend in these parts

that one bright afternoon,
in wintertime,

something will come from nowhere
and touch a man

for no good reason; ice-cold on his skin
or sharp as a needle,

it finds him and moves away
and leaves no mark.

It's not what he expected, neither death
nor absolution, but a slow and painless

fall between the collarbone and wrist
that lasts for days

and when he disappears,
amidst the thaw,

there is nothing to show he is missing,
not even


an absence.

Though each thing dies
into its own becoming,
the shed skin falling away,
still beautiful:

an empty form,
but governed by the moon,
like bone,
or thaw;

and if we are the fleshed
and perishable shadows of a soul
that shifts and slides
beneath this everyday

appearance, we are bound
by greenness and decay to see ourselves
each in the other, staying
and turning aside,

as lovers do, unable to resist
this ebb and flow:
new animals, with nothing in their minds
but light and air,

the creatures
of a sudden mystery,
who hurry on
towards the difficult;


though never the plural:
high barns filled with straw
and the flicker of errant birds
amongst the rafters,

a quiet fish-house, open to the sun,
where the packers sit turned from their work
to smoke or talk,

a litter of gut and ice
on the wet stone floor
catching the light,

or any schoolyard where the children wheel
and turn from their games
as if catching a sound in the distance

and waiting to hear it swell, to make it out:
a noise like water, say,
or gathered birds

far in the almost-heard, in the almost known,
is where it happens, singular and large
and unremarkable, like ice, or fire.


Thirteen months of driving back and forth
across the sound:

the old reds and gunpowder blues
of tethered boats

or long-legged waders
stepping away through the mist

remembered as something
What we know
is never quite the sum
of what we find,

moving towards a light
we only half

imagine: salt-dreams
printed in the flesh,

the echo of other bodies we have borne
through blizzards, silence, unrequited loves

and always that foreign self, who never leaves
the middle-ground

yet never fully
hoves into view:

a blur at the edge of the print,
that might be human:

a single
time-lapsed suggestion

of movement, that could just as easily
be something else:

a litter of rags, perhaps,
or a tended fire,

and just as we see the differing
versions of grey in the offing

as woodsmoke, or the unexpected gap
where nothing happening becomes

the drama, so we find
no space for Icarus to fall

and vanish
at the blue edge of the world,

only the usual story of some
local, who went out one afternoon

and strayed home decades later, much the same
as when he left: a story with a point

you couldn't miss,
or so it would appear,

living amongst your kind
in towns like this,

where truth is always local, like the thought
that comes to mind, as winter closes in,

a thought you guard against for years
until you guess

that nothing matters less
than being seen


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