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541: Variations on the Word Love

“Variations on the Word Love”
Margaret Atwood

This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It's the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
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 stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that fear.
This word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, 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.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
starry_eyed
Jun. 26th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)
This is one of my all time favorite poems. I absolutely adore Margaret Atwood.
shoelaceswitch
Jun. 26th, 2009 10:14 am (UTC)
I was just about to say exactly that...
onestringed
Jun. 26th, 2009 01:23 pm (UTC)
Me too (: Variations on the Word Sleep is equally exquisite.
tulips_and_lace
Jun. 26th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC)
Hmm. I like the second part.
jeweledhibiscus
Jun. 26th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)
I just... I love Margaret Atwood. Not like, love. I don't think she's ever written anything that hasn't made me look at myself and kinda want never to write again ^^;;
alzzers
Jun. 26th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
Love Atwood so much. And this poem so truly explains how I feel about the very word. It is far too short.
chaosbydesign
Jun. 26th, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
A plug, if you don't mind...
Hey all,

If any of you are interested, I started a livejournal for my personal poetry. I've been posting old stuff for the past few days, but I'll be caught up soon with my most recent writing. Go check it out if any of you would like to: poetlaura

Sorry to plug. I've been following this community for a while, and I love it - you do a great job, K (and M!).

Thanks all!
tangled_kisses
Jun. 27th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
!!! everytime i get to the end, my breath catches <3
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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