Heriot Toun in summer

Words for Winter 2015/6

At the Entering of the New Year (Homage to Thomas Hardy)

The future isn't what it used to be 
 Yogi Berra


Since it's not what it used to be,
the future is ours,

years to regret the bodies we dissolved
in Pinot Noir 

and Paracetemol,
a decade or more to walk home in the rain

repeatedly, the yard light coming on
as if by magic;

and, having come this far,
can we take it as read

that nothing ever happens
for a reason,

that choosing is out of the question, as is luck,
and the surest mistake

is to think we already know
what matters when we see it?

A week of fog;
a strange car in the driveway;

a doll's house
in the front yard,

pearled with rain -
no one can read the signs, it's not

a narrative;
if moths know anything of love

it has nothing to do with the beautiful doom
we long for;

and if what we insist on calling
fate seems inexplicable or cruel

it's only because
we lack the imagination

to wish for what it brings,
to brighten it

with something more inventive
than dismay.

Late in the day
but we're starting to like ourselves

and something feels true
that was always

in doubt
when it counted,

not what we know, but the things
we've decided to keep,

a ribbon of wilderness
out on the rim of our days,

the fine-grain of happy, the snowstorms,
the art of fugue,

some thirteen-minute loop
of grainy footage

running, for auld lang's syne,
at the back of our minds.




John Burnside

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