Margaret Atwood: Sumacs

26 November 2018

At night I leave food out
on a white plate, milk in a white cup
and sit waiting, in the kitchen chair
beside last month's newspapers
and the worn coat leaning against
the wall: the shape of you left in the air,
time seeping out of it.
In the morning nothing has been touched
again. It is the wrong time of year.


Later, the days of the week unhook
from their names; the weeks unhook.
I do not lock the door
any more, but go outside and down
the bank, among the sumacs
with their tongues of dried blood
which have stopped speaking, to the pond
with its blackening water
and the one face wavering in it

wordless. Heaviness of the flesh infests me,
my skin that holds me in its nets;
I wish to change shape, as you have done
and be what you are

but that would be untrue also.


I lie on the damp yellowed grass bent
as if someone has been walking here
and press my head to the ground.

Come back, I tell you.
It becomes April.

If the daffodil would shed its paper
husk and fold back into its teardrop
and then down into the earth
into its cold onion
and into sleep. The one place I can still meet you.


Grief is to want more.
What use is moonlight?
I reach into it, fingers open,
and my hand is silvered
and blessed, and comes back to me holding nothing.

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