Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chapterhouse by Liza Corbett & John Burnside's "After Lucretius"

Chapterhouse by Liza Corbett
These pieces are as crazy beautiful as they are grotesque-creepy.
The point is sharp, yes?
Her Blog

After Lucretius

Nam quodcumque suis mutatum finibus exit,
Continuo hoc mors est illius quod fuit ante,


It happens from time to time,
on days like this

– in winter, when the air is cold
and still,

the boats at the harbour
perched on their wooden stocks,

the gaps between the houses
filled with light –

it happens that I think of all
the vanishings I learned about in childhood:

that ship they found at sea,
unanchored, blind,

the table set for lunch, the galley
filling with steam;

the blank if the lamp-room
at Flannan, where they found

no sign of the men
who were waiting to be relieved;

the boy from a northern village, going out
at daybreak, to get kindling for a fire,

a line of footprints
stopping in the woods

and gradually erased
by morning snow.

When they speak about angels in books
I think what they mean is this sudden

arrival at somewhere else
through a rift in the fabric,

this glimpse of the absence that forms
between two lives

– and it comes as no surprise, on days like this,
alone in the house, or walking on the shore

at evening, that I'll stop dead and recall
the disappearances my childhood self

never quite engineered,
or how it is a legend in these parts

that one bright afternoon,
in wintertime,

something will come from nowhere
and touch a man

for no good reason; ice-cold on his skin
or sharp as a needle,

it finds him and moves away
and leaves no mark.

It's not what he expected, neither death
nor absolution, but a slow and painless

fall between the collarbone and wrist
that lasts for days

and when he disappears,
amidst the thaw,

there is nothing to show he is missing,
not even
an absence.

-- John Burnside
(From: John Burnside, The Light Trap, London: Cape, 2002.)

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