In the North

By Devin Johnston b. 1970 Devin Johnston
A blast off the Atlantic
snaps a flag in the Firth
of Clyde, while thirty leagues
away, the same synoptic wind   
surges across this hillside   
honeycombed with mineshafts,   
sounding the unstopped slots   
of a "G" harmonica left   
to dry on the kitchen sill.
Snow charges a sky
in which the sun swims
and glimmers like a groat,
a turbulent space where owls
hunt by day but nothing
stands for long—bereft
of circumstance—beyond
the standing stones of   
Long Meg and Her Daughters.

Through the night, like a stoker
on a fast express—the Hyperion
on its Edinburgh run—
you hoy buckets of coal
on the grate, only to see
its flames drawn up
the chimney, getting more   
heat from hoying the fuel   
than from its burning.   
As a barnacle goose swims
against the dark, uttering
its terse honk, you pull
your favorite word, duvet,
close about your head.
Tomorrow, bailiffs may
take everything   
not hammered down.

Source: Poetry (December 2007).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2007
 Devin  Johnston


Born in Canton, New York, Devin Johnston grew up in Winston-Salem and received his PhD from the University of Chicago.

Johnston is the author of several collections of poetry, including Sources (2008), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Aversions (2004) and Telepathy (2001). His prose writing includes the critical study Precipitations: Contemporary American Poetry as Occult Practice (2002) and Creaturely and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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