Wise Poets – Margaret Atwood – Dearly

Margaret Eleanor Atwood (November 18, 1939 -)

It’s an old word, fading now. Dearly did I wish. Dearly did I long for.

I loved him dearly.

I make my way along the sidewalk mindfully, because of my wrecked knees about which I give less of a shit than you may imagine since there are other things, more important –

wait for it, you’ll see –

bearing half a coffee in a paper cup with – dearly do I regret it – a plastic lid –

trying to remember what words once meant.

Dearly. How was it used? Dearly beloved. Dearly beloved, we are gathered. Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in this forgotten photo album

I came across recently.

Fading now, the sepias, the black and whites, the colour prints, everyone so much younger. The Polaroids. What is a Polaroid? asks the newborn.

Newborn a decade ago.

How to explain? You took the picture and then it came out the top. The top of what? It’s that baffled look I see a lot. So hard to describe the smallest details of how – all these dearly gathered together – of how we used to live. We wrapped up garbage in newspaper tied with string. What is newspaper?

You see what I mean.

String though, we still have string. It links things together. A string of pearls.

That’s what they would say.

How to keep track of the days? Each one shining, each one alone, each one then gone. I’ve kept some of them in a drawer on paper, those days, fading now. Beads can be used for counting. As in rosaries.

But I don’t like stones around my neck.

Along this street there are many flowers, fading now because it is August and dusty, and heading into fall. Soon the chrysanthemums will bloom, flowers of the dead, in France. Don’t think this is morbid.

It’s just reality.

So hard to describe the smallest details of flowers. This is a stamen, nothing to do with men. This is a pistil, nothing to do with guns. It’s the smallest details that foil translators and myself too, trying to describe. See what I mean. You can wander away. You can get lost.

Words can do that.

Dearly beloved, gathered here together in this closed drawer, fading now, I miss you. I miss the missing, those who left earlier. I miss even those who are still here. I miss you all dearly.

Dearly do I sorrow for you.

Sorrow: that’s another word you don’t hear much any more.

I sorrow dearly.