"Midwinter, 2013, Arncroach": a poem by John Burnside

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Frost today; a scuffed white on the roads
from street to street, where nobody will wake
for years, the Cousteau-blue
of TV at each window like the room
where Beauty sleeps, with all her beasts intact.

No one could rouse her now; that day has passed:
no orchard at the far end of the lane,
no yew walk through the churchyard, just a cold
hardstanding where a stick of lodgepole pine
stands decked with wires and pallid Xmas lights,

as if the festival were here, and not
a cry beyond our limits, when the night
steals in, and something overtakes the land
so utterly, you’d think it was a god.

John Burnside’s most recent poetry collection is All One Breath. His memoir I Put a Spell on You is newly published by Jonathan Cape (£16.99).

This article appears in the 14 May 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Why empires fall

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