Disappointment – by John Burnside, from the volume Black Cat Bone

Hope will predominate in every mind, till it has been suppressed by frequent disappointments.

Samuel Johnson


I turn left out of the rain

at Kippo junction,

the windshield clearing to sky and a skim

of swallows over the road like the last few

pages of a 50s story book


where someone is walking home

to the everafter,

touched with the smell of the woods and the barberry

shadows where the boy he left behind

is standing up to his waist in a Quink-blue current,


a burr of water streaming through his hands

in silt italics, touch all hook-and-eye

beneath the swell, and fingers opened wide

to catch what slithers past – the powder-blue

and neon of a surer life than his,


scant as it is, and lost, in the gaze of others.