POETRY & PAINTING: The Hunt & Sorrow

“greyhound to roebuck, laughter to skin and bone; and no one survives the hunt”


 

The Hunt in the Forest

by 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.

 

Emile_Friant_La_Douleur_1898

Emile Friant,  La Douleur, 1898

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