Mother as Script and Ideal

John Burnside

Always, I am coming home
from hunting frogs or standing in the swim
of wind beneath the last dyke
and the sea;
                  and, always, she is there,
in lanternglow,
a light that makes this world believable.

My eyes turned from the snuff
of paraffin and darkness in that house
so long ago, I barely know it’s gone:
the washrooms rinsed with frost, a skewed moon
picking out the paths from here to there
where someone, not myself,

still wanders, till I lie down in the warm
and wait for her to come, her hands
a labyrinth of mint and carrion, her book
the only one I have, its pages
fingerstained with daisychain and lilac,
and such depth in the pictures, I would find

The Snow Queen, or the Lady of the Lake
so readily, I thought they must be mine.