Why do you stay up so late?

By Don Paterson b. 1963 Don Paterson

For Russ

I’ll tell you, if you really want to know:
remember that day you lost two years ago
at the rockpool where you sat and played the jeweler
with all those stones you’d stolen from the shore?
Most of them went dark and nothing more,
but sometimes one would blink the secret color
it had locked up somewhere in its stony sleep.
This is how you knew the ones to keep.

So I collect the dull things of the day
in which I see some possibility
but which are dead and which have the surprise
I don’t know, and I’ve no pool to help me tell—
so I look at them and look at them until
one thing makes a mirror in my eyes
then I paint it with the tear to make it bright.
This is why I sit up through the night.

Source: Poetry (September 2009).

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2009
 Don  Paterson

Biography

Originally from Dundee, Scotland, Don Paterson left school at 16 and moved to London to pursue music and join a band. He found success with the jazz-folk ensemble Lammas, but was captivated by poetry upon encountering poet Tony Harrison. A self-taught poet influenced by Coleridge, Paul Muldoon, Derek Mahon, and Michael Longley, Paterson devoted a year to reading before he began to write and publish in earnest.
 
Paterson’s first . . .

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Poems by Don Paterson

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Parenthood, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Life Choices

POET’S REGION Scotland

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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