Thursday, March 17, 2011

Margaret Atwood - Variations on the word Love

This is a word we use to plug
holes with.
It's the right size for those
blanks in speech
, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look

like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell

it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole

magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know

it isn't what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard?
As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.

Then there's the two
of us.
This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse

to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the

that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that

this word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this
a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside.
You can
hold on
or let go.

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