The Word for Wood
All winter I have pursued the flat voice
of my reading. Simple words
have charged themselves against me,
or filled themselves up while I was looking elsewhere.
There is a double sense that things are just
wrong. Or wrongly labelled.
I cannot, for instance, figure out
how the light has thrown my shadow
upside down on the wall
across the river as I walk beneath the bridge.
The fertility symbols of other, older cultures
harass me through the cold wood.
The sounds of jackdaws going berserk
(though the sound is not their name…).
I might as well come clean –
all this is to impress somebody else
though they have long given up interest.
First I read they had left the conversation,
then I watched them leave the house,
finally I heard they left town.
Sometimes this place is barely an eco-system,
and I am just another walker
in the landscape. A golfer who has got lost
and is wearing the wrong jacket.
Of course there is a section in darkness.
Let’s call it the late-middle.
Your dogs have wandered off the path –
followed their innate memories of the pack
into the wood. The howls are maddening.
from 'Country Music' (Offord Road Books, 2020), © Will Burns 2020, used by permission of the author.