The Wreck, Don Paterson

I reread this yesterday and I thought I’d share it. It’s one of my favourites.

The metaphors are a mess, in both form and meaning. You keep each other afloat, but then why are you drowning in the first place? I’m inclined to say that if it doesn’t feel like that then it’s not love.

But what lovers we were, what lovers,
Even when it was all over –

the deadweight bull-black wines we swung
towards each other rang and rang

like bells of blood, our own great hearts.
We slung the drunk boat out of port

and watched our unreal sober life
unmoor, a continent of grief;

The candlelight strange on our faces
like the silent tiny blazes

And coruscations of its wars.
We blew them out and took the stairs

Into the night for the night’s work,
stripped off in the timbered dark,

Gently hooked each other on
like aqualungs, and thundered down

To mine our lovely secret wreck.
We surfaced later, breathless, back

To back, then made our way alone
up the mined beach of the dawn.



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