I would step through that scent on the way
to nowhere, adder’s tooth
and cullet in the grass, my body
to April rain;
chancing my luck, at large in the summer heat,
I crossed into the shadows, where a boy
could sing himself to sleep and wake up
naked and abandoned, scarred with touch
and full of voices that were not his own,
his mouth a bruise, all memory a blur,
and everything he knew of House and Home
abandoned to the greenwood
like a snare.
John Burnside is a Scottish author and the New Statesman’s nature columnist. His latest collection of poems, “Learning to Sleep” (Jonathan Cape), will be published on 5 August.
This article appears in the 07 Jul 2021 issue of the New Statesman, The baby bust