From the Box: Don Paterson

This was the poem that started my blistering love for Don Paterson. I remember reading it a few years ago, and being hit by this wonderful thud of recognition; other people also embraced those heady moments spent waiting for someone to arrive, felt some kind of disappointment when they did. It still remains, by far, my favourite ‘love’ poem.

The Shut-in by Don Paterson

Good of them, all told, to leave me locked
inside my favourite hour: the whole one early
I came to wait for one I loved too dearly
in this coffered snug below the viaduct
with my dark vernacular ale, Stevenson’s
short fiction, and the little game I played
of not thinking of her, except to thumb away
the exquisite stitch that gathers at my breastbone.

The minute hand strains at its lengthening tether
like Achilles on the hare; the luscious beer
refills; the millionth page flowers on the last
of The Bottle Imp . . . O Fathers, leave me here,
beyond the night, the stars, beyond the vast
infinitesimal letdown of each other!

 There are a few other places where I’ve also found this feeling expressed. Come on Home by Franz Ferdinand is probably second best:

Although my lover lives in a place that I can’t live
I kinda find I like a life this lonely.
It rips and pierces me in places I can’t see
I love the rip of nerves, the rip that wakes me.
So I’m dissatisfied, I love dissatisfied
I love to feel there’s always more that I need.

The Cure’s Close to Me doesn’t exactly glorify this state in the same way, but it does give a brilliant description of it. And finally, in the theological realm:

Kneeling by R. S. Thomas

Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun’s light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great role. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.

Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.

2 responses to “From the Box: Don Paterson

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