The Hunt In The Forest / John Burnside

How children think of death is how the shadows

gather between the trees: a hiding place

for everything the grown-ups cannot name.

Nevertheless, they hurry to keep their appointment

far in the woods, at the meeting of parallel lines,

where everything is altered by its own

momentum – altered, though we say transformed –

greyhound to roebuck, laughter to skin and bone;

and no one survives the hunt: though the men return

in threes and fours, their faces blank with cold,

they never quite arrive at what they seem,

leaving a turn of phrase or a song from childhood

deep in the forest, bent to the juddering kill

and waiting, while their knives slip through the blood

like butter, or silk, until the heart is still.

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