As White Lies
by Patrick James Errington

Say the quiet grows around you, that the slip of light
is all that pins my hand to your chest when the senses quit
taking and start offering up the little blueabout, the little
stones they’ve culled from the riverbed. Say you’re always

You, and a river’s deepest turns promising your body
a new shape, a way down. Orphan of water,
step back onto the bent rocks, into
the warming of me. There’s too much sky,
too much breathing to done. You say I’ve never been

small in these smallest rooms. Say sea. Say it backward
in my ear. Or stop and say there’s nothing left but
the nest of rust, that your body is emptied of you—how
wide your eyes say you can say everything, wildly, out,

wrong enough to be forgiven, or even to ask. I bend,
each night, to the sink as if to a nurse’s hand,
wait for the drought to wash me
against the mirror. While you sleep, sometimes, I kneel
on cool tiles hope they’re white enough to take me in.

like a Chinook arch of thunderhead, hurling itself
against a field of bent gold, of canola flowers and tar,
until at night it admits stars. Or like a deer, god-broken
on the snow, giving out its language in paling clouds,

Snow might come, but not without a break or a body
to collect against. If I could invent a word for a blank
square of my wall, would that make it real?
It can’t exist, white, you told me. I’ve seen snow only
from the shadows, said you by saying everything you are not.

marrow sucked from the open ulna until it draws
crystals of cold to the muzzle. Say you said
it all, your colours to the coils of your fingerpads,
what would you let light? Finches. Copper wire. Rome.
Caraway. Jessica. Say it never happened.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 4.

Patrick James ErringtonPatrick James Errington is a Canadian-born poet and translator. A recent graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, he is currently a doctoral candidate at St Andrews University in Scotland. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from DIAGRAM, American Literary Review, Antiphon, Punchnel’s, and others.

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