Me and my sister

Lucy Burnett

My gran still wrings the neckof the pre-plucked chook that flew awayand my mother nearly dying.                She is only young, grandmother,                and cannot know much better.I have been bad, and was here, to be there,not far from home, only three years old,three miles from home and the suddenall-consuming noise has just created                             (silence).I'm lying in a white bed bigger than my unformedknowledge of death while my mother has becomethe inverse of herself — wearing all her organsfrom the outside in. We are already stationary.There is a knocking on the window.There is a child in the back. I cannot breathe.It is dark, and somebody is knocking at the windowand the most awful noise has just created silence.There is a child in the back and I cannot breatheand then was nothing, then, but nothing.The steering wheel has been embedded in the futureof my mother's spine. We are stopped. I am alone.It is black and white and long and I must forgetthe way the car bonnet cut through my mother's line of sight.                I cried and cried, but still you did not answer me.My gran still wrings the neck of pre-plucked chookthat flew away and the noise was awful. I must have beenso bad, but she is young, grandmother, and cannot know much better.

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Lucy Burnett is from south-west Scotland, and in recent years has been based in the north of England. She currently lives in Cockermouth, where she gets out in the fells at every opportunity, and works as Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Cumbria. Previously she has worked at Leeds Beckett, Salford and Strathclyde Universities, and before that as an environmental campaigner for organisations including Ramblers Scotland, and Friends of the Earth. Apart from writing and academia, she is a photographer, a keen fellrunner and recently completed climbing the Scottish Munros.

"The writing is distinguished by a tenuousness as if the details are created one by one out of the possibility of their existence, something that has to be coaxed by creating space for it to happen in."
—Peter Riley, The Fortnighly Review

"Lucy Burnett's poems involve us in a vivid experience of the self in landscape and language, moving playfully but with an intensity that at times leaves us breathless and amazed."
—Grevel Lindop

"There is something of Dylan Thomas in the exuberant wordplay and feeling for place, and something of W.S. Graham in her exploration of language and landscape as the twin territories within which we live... Burnett's subjects are serious ones, but her poems are joyful to read, revelling in the endless possibilities of language and of the world itself, 'in whatever colour you might come.'"
—Helen Tookey

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