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 Behind faces and gestures
We remain mute
And spoken words heavy
With what we ignore or keep silent
Betray us

I dare not speak for mankind
I know so little of myself

But the Landscape

I see as a reflection
Is also a lie stealing into
My words I speak without remorse
Of this image of myself
And mankind my unequaled torment

I speak of Desert without repose
Carved by relentless winds
Torn up from its bowels

Blinded by sands
Unsheltered solitary
Yellow as death
Wrinkled like parchment
Face turned to the sun.
I speak Of men's passing So rare in this arid land That it is cherished like a refrain Until the return Of the jealous wind And of the bird, so rare, Whose fleeting shadow Soothes the wounds made by the sun And of the tree and the water Named Oasis For a woman's love I speak of the voracious Sea Reclaiming shells from beaches Waves from children The faceless Sea Its hundreds of drowned faces Wrapped in seaweed Slippery and green Like creatures of the deep The reckless Sea, unfinished story, Removed from anquish Full of death tales I speak of open valleys Fertile at men's feet Overgrown with flowers Of captive summits Of mountains, of clear skies Devoured by untamed evergreens And of trees that know The welcome of lakes Black earth Errant pathways Echoes of the faces Haunting our days.

Poem by John Burnside
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