Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

Is/Not


Love is not a profession
genteel or otherwise

sex is not dentistry
the slick filling of aches and cavities

you are not my doctor
you are not my cure,

nobody has that
power, you are merely a fellow/traveller

Give up this medical concern,
buttoned, attentive,

permit yourself anger
and permit me mine

which needs neither
your approval nor your suprise

which does not need to be made legal
which is not against a disease

but agaist you,
which does not need to be understood

or washed or cauterized,
which needs instead

to be said and said.
Permit me the present tense.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Is/Not by Margaret Atwood )

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  • Sonya S (12/28/2006 11:40:00 AM)

    is there by any chance another link to a website with this poem posted, because i can't find any and i need about two other sources confirming this poem is by margaret atwood. (Report) Reply

  • Eileen Slade (12/20/2006 9:26:00 AM)

    This is only half the poem. People should be more observant and careful before posting on the internet, but I guess in this age of immediacy, that may be too much to ask. The rest of the poem is this (and the first part of the poem should be labeled with 'i.') :

    ii

    I am not a saint or a cripple,
    I am not a wound; now I will see
    whether I am a coward.


    I dispose of my good manners,
    you don't have to kiss my wrists.

    This is a journey, not a war,
    there is no outcome,
    I renounce predictions


    and aspirins, I resign the future
    as I would resign an expired passport:
    picture and signature gone
    along with holidays and safe returns.


    We're stuck here
    on this side of the border
    in this country of thumbed streets and stale buildings


    where there is nothing spectacular
    to see and the weather is ordinary

    where love occurs in its pure form only
    on the cheaper of the souvenirs


    where we must walk slowly,
    where we may not get anywhere


    or anything, where we keep going,
    fighting our ways, our way
    not out but through. (Report) Reply

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