Notes towards a poem that can never be written


I have long been a fan of Margaret Atwood.  Her stories and poems always touch me and, more importantly, they make me think.

This poem is from a collection of poems from 1976-1986, and it is no less relevant today than when it was written over 30 years ago.  The sadness in the world has not lessened, the losses are as great, and still we want to look away.

If the world is to be a better place, we must see it for what it is — even, as Ms. Atwood says, through tears.

 

Namaste,

Barbara

bjwordpressdivider

 

 

Because we have had enough!

Because we have had enough!

 

 

Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written

 

i

This is the place

you would rather not know about

this is the place that will inhabit you,

this is the place you cannot imagine,

this is the place that will finally defeat you.

 

where the word why shrivels and empties

itself.  This is famine.

 

ii

There is no poem you can write

about it, the sandpits

where so many were buried

& unearthed, the unendurable

pain still traced on their skins.

 

This did not happen last year

or forty years ago but last week.

This has been happening,

this happens.

 

We make wreaths of adjective for them,

we count them like beads,

we turn them into statistics & litanies

and into poems like this one

 

Nothing works.

They remain what they are.

 

iii

The woman lies on the wet cement floor

under the unending light,

needle marks on her arms put there

to kill the brain

and wonders why she is dying.

 

She is dying because she said,

She is dying for the sake of the word,

It is her body, silent

and fingerless, writing this poem

 

iv

It resembles an operation

but it is not one.

 

nor despite the spread legs, grunts

& blood, is it a birth.

 

Partly it’s a job,

partly it’s a display of skill

like a concerto.

 

It can be done badly

or well, they tell themselves
Partly it’s an art.

 

v

The facts of the world seen clearly

are seen through tears;

why tell me then

there is something wrong with my eyes?

 

To see clearly and without flinching,

without turning away,

this is agony, the eyes taped open

two inches from the sun.

 

What is it you see then?

Is it a bad dream, a hallucination?

Is it a vision?

What is it you hear?

 

The razor across the eyeball

is a detail form an old film.

It is also a truth.

Witness what you must bear.

 

–Margaret Atwood

3 thoughts on “Notes towards a poem that can never be written

  1. it is all beyond overwhelming at times

  2. This world is so heavy now and this poem is more than appropriate for our times!

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