Margaret Atwood: Valediction, Intergalactic

26 November 2018


Now that the pain is slower I know
it's there, less
like being flayed than being
scalded. A long moment of no breath at all
and no feeling. Then layer after layer peels off.
A peach in boiling water.
This is a domestic image.
Try: soft moon with the rind off.
The more I go on the less it's
anyone's fault, especially not
yours, who got neediness done to you
decades ago, and the doctor
doesn't stop to ask why your
blood and eggwhite is coming
out over the floor but shoves it back in
and calls for a suture. Which is what
I'm doing, though all that mending to keep things
together and smooth ruined my eyes

so at the end I could see only
the shift between light and dark, and you were
light at first and then dark
and then light and then dark, and I wanted it
to be light all the time, as in religious
postcards, or the arctic circle.
Is this intolerance? Am I
non-human? Is it greed for some
stupid absolute, some zero,
that takes my skin off
like this and makes your unsaid
words flare blue with terror? Do I prefer
the airless blaze of outer
space to men, even
the beautiful ones? Goodbye
earthling, you were more perfect
than anyone, though far from it.

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