Caught by the River

Out of Doors: a poem by Will Burns

Will Burns | 11th November 2016

We knew sun-up as mosquito time
playing itself out
in a damp wood
and the madness, really,
of a dawn chorus being taped.
Our field recordings made
so we might never lose a thing.

Later, emptying his house,
I found the tape machine.
Hit the play button and watched
the glossy acetate spool through the rollers,
the ribbon taut against the tape heads,
the capstans still running,
still keeping perfect time.

It’s a weekly hour I spend
now, noting the changing greens
of his nursing home garden,
on borrowed time thick
with these slow last years.

He cannot grasp what it is
I have played to him,
how the report of birdsong
swells into the spaces
left between us, sitting here
in this, his last and lighted room.

Will Burns on Caught by the River / Twitter