Subscribe to Granta today

Self-Portrait as Amnesiac


Photo by Adam Levine.

Self-portrait as Amnesiac

I never saw the fauna of this world,
only a stare through headlights, a hurried

lurching from verge to verge
on a woodland road;

and, long ago, those places in the roof
where dust had gathered,

shoeboxes lined with eggs and empty
pomegranates drying in a bowl,

mousebones and wicker, chess pieces, muddled coats,
the slender, puppet versions of myself

who played here for a while
then moved away.

At times, when I have nothing else to do,
I think of going up into the highest

roof-beam, like the bridegroom in a hymn,
and bringing something down, an ancient

bird mask, or a broken violin,
or something in a cage that’s still alive

until I fetch it out into the light
and watch it go to powder, teeth and eyestitch

crumbling, and the sound it used to make
extinguished, like that shrieking in the woods

that, once, when I was small, and still awake,
uncharmed me from my bed, before it vanished.

John Burnside will also be featured in the forthcoming Britain issue, out on 10 May.

Comments (19)

You need to create an account or log in to comment.

  1. brownpundit

    Wed Mar 07 13:35:20 GMT 2012

    "a hurried/lurching from verge"
    Driving drunk, or drunk man lurching to avoid cars?

    "places in the roof/ where dust had gathered"
    encapsulates the poem, great metaphor.

    Love it.

    More, More, please

  2. shahid

    Tue Feb 18 02:02:19 GMT 2014

    These days a strawberry in April impresses no one, and yet I find I can’t quite resist having a go at forcing my own.<a title=" ori adelsburg" href=""> ori adelsburg</a>

  3. shahid

    Tue Feb 18 01:24:54 GMT 2014

    After pollination, a tube grows from the pollen through the stigma into the ovary to the ovule and two sperm are transferred from the pollen to the male gametophyte.<a title="priniv" href="">priniv</a>

  4. shahid

    Tue Feb 18 03:37:02 GMT 2014

    During January 2005 a strategic change was implemented in the nature of cooperation between the economic department of Haaretz and TheMarker.

  5. mariolago

    Wed Apr 09 18:14:24 BST 2014

    Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on a look out for such information.


    Mon Mar 31 13:15:49 BST 2014

    I am pretty much happy with the contents you've got mentioned. I wished to thanks for this nice post. I enjoyed each little a part of it and that i are anticipating the new updates.

  7. jakebercher4

    Mon Apr 21 09:12:00 BST 2014

    Once I thought about things like: why such information is for free here? Because when you write a book then at least on selling a book you get a percentage. Thank you and good luck on informing people more about it!


    Sat Apr 12 06:59:55 BST 2014

    This content is written very well. Your use of formatting when making your points makes your observations very clear and easy to understand. Thank you.
    Blog Comment


    Fri Mar 14 18:43:50 GMT 2014

    Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more.
    michael fiore text your ex back 2.0 reviews


    Mon Mar 03 17:24:45 GMT 2014

    I was excited to uncover this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you book marked to look at new stuff in your website.
    read more reviews


    Sun Mar 16 18:51:58 GMT 2014

    Thank you so much for providing an experience and take on something I never thought I would find anywhere else.


    Fri Feb 28 12:58:23 GMT 2014

    This is a good post! Well done and I believe it will be better in future. May wanna add some pictures and life.

  13. shahid

    Sun Feb 23 21:17:29 GMT 2014

    Over the last few years, car rentals have become very popular thanks to the affordable prices and the freedom that they provide.


    Sun Feb 23 15:07:30 GMT 2014

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.
    language of desire michael fiore system