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This poem is taken from PN Review 125, Volume 25 Number 3, January - February 1999.

Four Poems John Burnside

True North

That winter we kept the same pale fire for months,
and somewhere amongst the hills, those bronze-coloured lamps

were always burning, shrouded in themselves
like curtained moths.

For months we countered grey with bergamot,
inventing the warmth of ourselves on a sea-fog's

second skin. For months we learned to sing
from gutted hymnals, pressed against the dark

till snow fell, like the pause you sometimes hear
before a bell, and nothing in the song

but waiting: patient, mutable as glass,
and quiet as that spasm in the throat

when somebody fills a jug with the water and ice
from an afternoon thaw, or the night-long cream of the well.


Physics
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