About the Poem
About the poet
John Burnside (b. 1955) is the author of fourteen collections of poetry and eleven works of...
Fatwa on Intimacy
There is no other love like surrogate.
Vertigo after you left, in the ruined
hive of what I used to think
Which I foresaw
and yet I waited years
through snow, then snowdrops,
crocuses, then sweet
Now, I assume,
you are working all night
at the lab,
the one light burning in that third-floor
of noctuids at the glass, while you extract
the venom, or the stunted embryo,
from something still alive, but scarcely
conscious in the cradle of your hand,
the weight of it, the pulse,
the veins of heat
a pleasure that must go without a name
for now, at least, the lacing in a wing
extended to its fullest and held still
for minutes, while you make the next incision.
from Still Life with Feeding Snake (Cape, 2017) © John Burnside 2017, used by permission of the author and the publisher
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