The Hunt In The Forest

The Hunt In The Forest

How children think of death is how the shadows
gather between the trees: a hiding place
for everything the grown-ups cannot name.
Nevertheless, they hurry to keep their appointment
far in the woods, at the meeting of parallel lines,
where everything is altered by its own
momentum – altered, though we say transformed –
greyhound to roebuck, laughter to skin and bone;

and no one survives the hunt: though the men return
in threes and fours, their faces blank with cold,
they never quite arrive at what they seem,
leaving a turn of phrase or a song from childhood
deep in the forest, bent to the juddering kill
and waiting, while their knives slip through the blood
like butter, or silk, until the heart is still.

John Burnside, The Hunt In The Forest

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