Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

Disclaimer: this poem is kind of a downer...but hey, it's February, one of the more dreary months of the year, so what do you expect. Besides, I happen to love depressing literature -- I once took a seminar in college called "Doomed Love in the Western World," taught by a bitter divorcee. The syllabus included
Anna Karenina, House of Mirth, Antony and Cleopatra and Madame Bovary. It was a barrel of laughs.

Without further ado, I give you "Rain" by Don Paterson, which appeared in the New Yorker in 2008. It's especially appropriate given that the Oscar nominations were announced yesterday.


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

the woman sits alone

beside a silent telephone
or the dress lies ruined in 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 fallings waters

the fallen rain's own sons and daughters

and none of the this, none of this matters.

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