The Lie

By Don Paterson b. 1963 Don Paterson
As was my custom, I’d risen a full hour
before the house had woken to make sure
that everything was in order with The Lie,
his drip changed and his shackles all secure.

I was by then so practiced in this chore
I’d counted maybe thirteen years or more
since last I’d felt the urge to meet his eye.
Such, I liked to think, was our rapport.

I was at full stretch to test some ligature
when I must have caught a ragged thread, and tore
his gag away; though as he made no cry,
I kept on with my checking as before.

Why do you call me The Lie? he said. I swore:
it was a child’s voice. I looked up from the floor.
The dark had turned his eyes to milk and sky
and his arms and legs were all one scarlet sore.

He was a boy of maybe three or four.
His straps and chains were all the things he wore.
Knowing I could make him no reply
I took the gag before he could say more

and put it back as tight as it would tie
and locked the door and locked the door and locked the door

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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Horror

POET’S REGION Scotland

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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