by Don Paterson

I love all films that start with rain:
rain, braiding a windowpane
or darkening a hung-out dress
or streaming down her upturned face;

one long thundering downpour
right through the empty script and score
before the act, before the blame,
before the lens pulls through the frame

to where the woman sits alone
beside a silent telephone
or the dress lies ruined on the grass
or the girl walks off the overpass,

and all things flow out from that source
along their fatal watercourse.
However bad or overlong
such a film can do no wrong,

so when his native twang shows through
or when the boom dips into view
or when her speech starts to betray
its adaptation from the play,

I think to when we opened cold
on a rain-dark gutter, running gold
with the neon of a drugstore sign,
and I’d read into its blazing line:

forget the ink, the milk, the blood—
all was washed clean with the flood
we rose up from the falling waters
the fallen rain’s own sons and daughters

and none of this, none of this matters.

Lately I've found myself drawn to poetry. The rain these last two days led me to this poem by the Scottish poet Don Paterson. The evocative imagery of the first part of the poem leaves you somewhat unprepared for the shattering last line, "and none of this, none of this matters." It is certainly true in the face of the immeasurable loss of someone you love. My sisters and I are still bereaved over the death of our father. My younger sister broke down and wept during our last telephone conversation. Our grief is unconsolable, and at my darkest moment, I rage wordlessly against the order of the universe. Everything is useless because nothing will restore him. So why poetry? Because only through words and music can I come close to any semblance of understanding the situation. Or failing that, poetry at least lends me the words to express my grief. I cling to the line in Shakespeare's King Lear where the old king raged at the death of his daughter Cordelia,
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'll come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never!
The writer Jeanette Winterson once wrote that she was not sure "death could be done without poetry," meaning that "an intense experience need an intense language."
Yet even Winterson concedes that death is "lost to language. When death approaches, when death happens, that event falls outside the scope of what can be said. To write about it is a kind of magic – an evocation, an invocation, a re-membering of what has been dis-membered. The scattered life, now returned to so many atoms, becomes what atoms are – empty space and points of light."
I want to find a way into that empty space and points of light, to write an invocation to remember my father by. All I can do is remember.


  1. Cela fait 4 mois pour moi. Et j'ai toujours cette boule dans la gorge comme un cri étouffé, comme des mots qui veulent, qui doivent sortir mais ne sortent justement pas parce que, que dire? Doit-on taire l'horreur de la perte? Je t'embrasse.