Negative Space, a poem about the relationship between father and son

Giulia Guido
negative space |

The depth and originality of the short film Negative Space earned directors Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata an Oscar nomination in 2018. The two authors were inspired by Ron Koertge‘s poem of the same name, which recounts the complicated relationship between a father and a son, almost exclusively based on the preparation of his father’s suitcase, a moment that over the years has become a ritual.

The dark colors and the predominance of a blue palette accompany us in a mood of nostalgia and sadness, with a final twist that will snatch a bitter smile.

Below you can find the entire poem Negative Space by Ron Koertge:

My dad taught me to pack: lay out everything. Put back half. Roll things
that roll. Wrinkle-prone things on top of cotton things. Then pants, waist-
to-hem. Nooks and crannies for socks. Belts around the sides like snakes.
Plastic over that. Add shoes. Wear heavy stuff on the plane.
      We started when I was little. I’d roll up socks. Then he’d pretend to put me
in the suitcase, and we’d laugh. Some guys bond with their dads shooting
hoops or talking about Chevrolets. We did it over luggage.
      By the time I was twelve, if he was busy, I’d pack for him. Mom tried
but didn’t have the knack. He’d get somewhere, open his suitcase and text
me—”Perfect.” That one word from him meant a lot.
      The funeral was terrible—him laid out in that big carton and me crying
and thinking, Look at all that wasted space.

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Written by Giulia Guido
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