Pa­trick James Erring­ton

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They Don’t Make Gods For Non-Be­liev­ers: Po­etry Com­pe­ti­tion Win­ner

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 it’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 soft sine, comes apart into colour, but that hardly helps the 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’m speak­ing to as I write this, kneel­ing, pages clos­ing more qui­etly than hands on the bed.

Po­etry Com­pe­ti­tion Win­ner 2016

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