Precognition by Margaret Atwood

Drawing by my sister



Living backwards means only
I must suffer everything twice.
Those picnics were already loss:
with the dragonflies and the clear streams halfway.

What good did it do me to know
how far along you would come with me
and when you would return?
By yourself, to a life you call daily.

You did not consider me a soul
but a landscape, not even one
I recognize as mine, but foreign
and rich in curios:
an egg of blue marble,
a dried pod,
a clay goddess you picked up at a stall
somewhere among the dun and dust-green
hills and the bronze-hot
sun and the odd shadows,

not knowing what would be protection,
or even the need for it then.

I wake in the early dawn and there is the roadway
shattered, and the glass and the blood,
from an intersection that has happened
already, though I can’t say when.
Simply that it will happen.

What could I tell you now that would keep you
safe or warn you?
What good would it do?
Live and be happy.

I would rather cut myself loose
from time, shave off my hair
and stand at a crossroads
with a wooden bowl, throwing
myself on the dubious mercy
of the present, which is innocent
and forgetful and hits the eye bare

and without words and without even love
than do this mourning over.

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