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This article is taken from PN Review 82, Volume 18 Number 2, November - December 1991.

Urphänomen John Burnside


SUNDAY; the word in Greek for transmigration; missals of feast days in scarlet ink: Laetere, Rogation, Quasimodo. All afternoon it was morning in America: quiet water falling on the Lakes, fog in the redwoods, the gold leaf of sunlight on Salem and Mariposa. I did my homework in the kitchen, memorizing the sub-families of Liliaceae and the Latin subjunctives, drawing frogs and cocos seeds, becoming the dusk by degrees as it seeped through the twigs and streetlamps on Fulford Road, a grey I assigned to the soul in scripture books, the sly persistence of a non-existent world, filling my daydreams with old-fashioned tinsel and crime.


I think too long about the road and it disappears in a shimmer of fernleaves and headlamps. In the soft hiss of the terminus a fat girl is practising dance steps by the light of the Budweiser sign; another girl asks for 50c and I give her a dollar. Between stops the road recurs, like the wind, or radio waves. I read about those who have vanished: she drove to the store for some beer; he stopped on the way for a magazine - I think too long about the road: that taste of the possible, half diesel, half amyl nitrate. Every night I go home in the lilac rain; every morning I go to work, but I always think of walking away, to the absolute motionless summer of inexistence.


Discontent. ...

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