The Silence I’m Learning By Heart

Why children make pulp of slugs
with a sprinkling of salt

or hang a nest of fledglings on a gate
with stolen pins

is why I sometimes turn towards the dark
and leave you guessing,

only to know the butter and nickel taste
of cruelty;
                to watch, and show no sign

of having seen.
wickedness, that sometimes celebrates

a tightness of the mind;
but what I comprehend

of fear and love:
cradled remoteness, nurtured by stalled desire;

willed deprivation;
the silence I’m learning by heart.

John Burnside, Husbandry

Photograph taken in Morley, Leeds, April 2014.


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