Margaret Atwood

Ottawa, Ontario
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Variations On The Word Love

Rating: 4.3
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.
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COMMENTS
Mahtab Bangalee 18 July 2019
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. // beautiful poem penned and shared; thanks
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Savita Tyagi 18 July 2019
Interesting poem. Love is certainly a good filler. Not only for unfinished thoughts but also unfulfilled life if only one would give it a chance. The poems abounds with creativity!
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Khairul Ahsan 18 July 2019
' 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.' - Wonderful! Rightly chosen as the 'Modern Poem of the Day'!
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Edward Kofi Louis 18 July 2019
In wonder! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
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viraat 18 July 2019
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0 1 Reply
Glen Kappy 18 July 2019
If we may have thought that all that could be written in poems about love had been exhausted, here’s this poem with its vivid and tactile images and words. Nope. Not exhausted. Can love ever be? -Glen
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Banamala Sen 18 July 2019
Exceptional! Last four lines - how meaningful, Superb!
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Ratnakar Mandlik 18 July 2019
An amazing thought provoking poem showing the hollowness of frequently used words like love and two of us without meaning either of them. Well deserved modern poem of the Day.
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Kumarmani Mahakul 18 July 2019
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.....outstanding conceptualization. A beautiful poem on love is wisely delineated.
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Dr Dillip K Swain 18 July 2019
Margaret Atwood’s masterpiece, ‘Surfacing' vibrates in my mind while I go through this wonderful work on love! The illustrious expression, “There are whole magazines with not much in them but the word love” signifies why Margaret Atwood’s works are so endearing!
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