This is a wonderful poetry collection! The Good Neighbour explores relationships between humans and between us and nature, with great insight and a wonderful understanding of the workings of language. The poems are populated by shapeshifting creatures, angels and unidentified beings with:
two spurs of cartilage above
the shoulder blades; not wings,
or not quite wings,
but something like a memory of flight
locked in a chamber of bone
(from Annunciation with Zero Point Field)
and are we all like that if only we would recognise it? Life as a whole here is pervaded by:
that locked sense of robin's egg blue
at the back of a life
that never quite lost its place
in the given script
but wanted, more than anything, to rise
and go out in the dark, to where the owls
were shifting aside, unlocked from the visible world,
and the rain in the trees
was a room at the end of the mind
where what we love goes on, uninterrupted.
(from By Herodsfoot)
This extract speaks to me incredibly powerfully, though I can't articulate why. That is part of the appeal in most of these poems, they capture some aspect of life that you instinctively feel is undefinable, as I read the words I'm thinking 'that is so real' but still wouldn't be able to say what it is.
This is a collection I will read over and over, the poetry is so beautiful and insightful. In fact John Burnside os one of my favourite poets currently writing in Scotland, though in some other of his collections his work imbues nature with too much darkness and the novel of his I read was too disturbing for me to be able to finish! If you only read one book by John Burnside make it The Good Neighbour.