Postcard by Margaret Atwood

Missing friends, even if we’re together all the time. I’m feeling that thing again, where I feel so disconnected and lost to everyone around me. I went to the counselor today at the university, something I hate to do but feel compelled to continue doing anyway, and we’re at this point again where they say they can’t help me anymore, and that I might need someone more…equipped to handle my delirium. I thought of art therapy, honestly, while we were talking about remedies. Writing, at the moment, is not giving me what I want/need. I’m not sure I feel comfortable with the counselor’s words re: how ‘creative people usually suffer a condition or two’. Was that suppose to comfort me? Damn.

Anyway. Reading a poem. Trying not to stick my head in an oven actually.

Postcard
Margaret Atwood

I’m thinking of you. What else can I say?
The palm trees on the reverse
are a delusion; so is the pink sand.
What we have are the usual
fractured coke bottles and the smell
of backed-up drains, too sweet,
like a mango on the verge
of rot, which we have also.
The air clear sweat, mosquitos
& their tracks; birds, blue & elusive.

Time comes in waves here, a sickness, one
day after the other rolling on;
I move up, its called
awake, then down into the uneasy
nights but never
forward. The roosters crow
for hours before dawn, and a prodded
child howls & howls
on the pocked road to school.
In the hold with the baggage
there are two prisoners,
their heads shaved by bayonets, & ten crates
of queasy chicks. Each spring
there’s a race of cripples, from the store
to the church. This is the sort of junk
I carry with me; and a clipping
about democracy from the local paper.
Outside the window
they’re building the damn hotel,
nail by nail, someone’s
crumbling dream. A universe that includes you
can’t be all bad, but
does it? At this distance
you’re a mirage, a glossy image
fixed in the posture
of the last time i saw you.
Turn you over, there’s the place
for the address. Wish you were
here. Love comes
in waves like the ocean, a sickness which goes on
& on, a hollow cave
in the head, filling and pounding, a kicked ear.

From Selected Poems II (1976-1986) by Margaret Atwood, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1987.

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