The Lie Poem by Don Paterson

The Lie

Rating: 4.9


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

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Susan Williams 16 March 2020

That was powerful and provocative, The reader is free to postulate his own ideas about what is going on- I'm thinking the narrator has told the lie and has to live with the lie suppressed in him for the rest of his life. 10+ on my fav list

1 0 Reply
Mahtab Bangalee 16 March 2020

The dark had turned his eyes to milk and sky and his arms and legs were all one scarlet sore./// beautiful expression; nice poem

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Harley White 16 March 2020

Wow... This struck me as a really powerful poem by a poet new to me. Thanks for posting it...

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Bernard F. Asuncion 12 January 2018

Don, such an interesting write...10+++

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Adrian Flett 16 March 2019

The on-going enormity of a Lie.

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patrick ogier 22 April 2022

one of my favourite ever poems - in some way it changed what i thought poetry can do. beautifully written, interesting, mysterious, nightmarish, evocative and profound.

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Chinedu Dike 16 March 2020

Well articulated and nicely brought forth in verse with rhythmic splendour.

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Nike Ilupeju 16 March 2020

A thought provoking and beautiful poem. I love it

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Dr Antony Theodore 16 March 2020

He was a boy of maybe three or four. His straps and chains were all the things he wore. nd put it back as tight as it would tie and locked the door and locked the door and locked the door. is it a mercy killing in total sympathy to the suffering lad. just asking u. tony

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Kumarmani Mahakul 16 March 2020

So brilliantly inscription has been made. Beautiful poem. Thanks and congratulations for being selected this poem as the member poem of the poem of the day.

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