Patrick James Errington

Biographical Note

Poems by Patrick James Errington appear worldwide, in journals & anthologies like The Poetry Review, Best New Poets, New Writing Scotland, Bost Review, Iowa Review, Cincinnati Review, & Oxford Poetry, as well as in two pamphlets, Glean (2018) & Field Studies (2019). His writing has won numerous awards, including the Poetry International Prize, the Wigtown Poetry Competition, The London Magazine Poetry Competition, & the 2020 Callan Gordon Award from the Scottish Book Trust. Patrick is also a translator, with his French version of PJ Harvey’s The Hollow of the Hand appearing in 2017, & an English translation of philosopher Émil Cioran’s Notebooks forthcoming. Originally from Alberta, Canada, Patrick is currently a Teaching & Research Fellow in English & Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh.

Website: http://pjerrington.com/

Poem performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-e0DeubWZw&t=1s

They Don’t Make Gods for Non-Believers

When I tell him I’m dying, my doctor says I’ll die
years and years from now if I’m careful, so I will

die, then, I say, but carefully. After all, if it’s worth
doing then it’s got to be worth doing carefully

and my doctor agrees (he should). All the same
you can be too careful, which is why I see him far less

than is, quote-unquote, prudent. My doctor, I mean, not
God. Him, I see so much more than should a devout

non-believer. But never where I expect to – great
storms, great losses and the like. Rather in the pale

residues left behind latex gloves, or the soft patience
of a painkiller. Maybe that’s a sign I’m approaching

the end. Or it may just be the perfunctory depression
of my tongue again, the requisite ah. Ah, as though

comprehending. But let’s face it, comprehension’s
not the issue. I mean, I can comprehend, like glass,

that light with all its grit and sine comes apart
into colour but that hardly warms this halogen, hardly

amounts to understanding. My doctor thinks his is
a look of understanding, with all that plastic wisdom

of sign and symptom, but understanding nothing
of mine. Between you, me, and my god, my God

I’ve got a lot to cower from. Which, I guess, means
I should put faith in one of us. But Him I don’t trust

any more than my doctor, or me, or any more
than anyone else so reliant on terror in their acolytes,

shivering and braille-skinned, deaths confessed to
and calendared. He laughs at my swithering, hands

swaddled in the too-white light, reading my body,
asking who I’ll speak to while I write this, kneeling,

pages closing more careful than hands on the bed.