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Agoraphobia

My whole world is all you refuse:
a black light, angelic and cold
on the path to the orchard,
fox-runs and clouded lanes and the glitter of webbing,
little owls snagged in the fruit nets
out by the wire
and the sense of another life, that persists
when I go out into the yard
and the cattle stand round me, obstinate and dumb.
All afternoon, I've worked at the edge of your vision,
mending fences, marking out our bounds.
Now it is dusk, I turn back to the house
and catch you, like the pale Eurydice
of children's classics, venturing a glance
at nothing, at this washed infinity
of birchwoods and sky and the wet streets leading away
to all you forget: the otherworld, lucid and cold
with floodlights and passing trains and the noise of traffic
and nothing like the map you sometimes
study for its empty bridlepaths,
its hill-tracks and lanes and roads winding down to a coast
of narrow harbors, lit against the sea.

óJohn Burnside


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