Poem of the Day #11

IS/NOT
Margaret Atwood

Love is not a profession
genteel or otherwise

sex is not dentistry
the slick filling of aches and cavities

you are not my doctor
you are not my cure,

nobody has that
power, you are merely a fellow/traveler.

Give up this medical concern,
buttoned, attentive,

permit yourself anger
and permit me mine

which needs neither
your approval nor your surprise

which does not need to be made legal
which is not against a disease

but against you,
which does not need to be understood

or washed or cauterized,
which need instead

to be said and said.
Permit me the present tense.

I am not a saint or a cripple,
I am not a wound; now I will see
whether I am a coward.

I dispose of my good manners,
you don’t have to kiss my wrists.

This is a journey, not a war,
there is no outcome,
I renounce predictions

and asprins, I resign the future
as I would resign an expired passport:
picture and signature are gone
along with holidays and safe returns.

We’re stuck here
on this side of the border
in this country of thumbed streets and stale buildings

where there is nothing spectacular
to see and the weather is ordinary

where love occurs in its pure form only
ont hé cheaper of the souvenirs

where we must walk slowly,
where we may not get anywhere

or anything, where we keep going,
fighting our ways, our way
not out but through.

from Selected Poems 1965-1975

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