A truth should exist,
it should not be used
like this. If I love you
is that a fact or a weapon?
Margaret Atwood (1971)
I recently signed up for the daily newsletter Pome by Matthew Ogle, in which he sends out a different poem to his subscribers every day. The subscription page says that the project is over, so I assume the poems are being sent in a loop now. I don’t care, though. I figure it will be a nice way to discover work I’ve never read or heard of.
One of the first I got was the above poem from Margaret Atwood. I wrote about her a few Writer’s Quote Wednesdays ago but I admit I have never read any of her work. This is the first poem I have seen by her, and I think it’s lovely.
I’m a sucker for short ones like this, and I fall in love with anything about love, especially when it is about the messy and cruel parts of love.
I can’t be sure exactly what Atwood is saying here, but I think about the ways people hurt each other in relationships. About all the ways I have hurt, and have been hurt, in my own relationship.
Who hasn’t used their love as a weapon? To do so seems to be a natural tendency of the human species. I don’t mean to say it isn’t wrong, only that we have to learn that it is wrong and how not to do it.
We have to learn that our love is a fact. Saying you love someone is like saying the Earth orbits the sun or that 2+2=4. It just is, and it should be allowed to mean nothing more than what it is. It shouldn’t be used as an argument, or a means of convincing, manipulating, or punishing someone. Your love shouldn’t be used to cause pain.
Margaret Atwood captured something very complicated and captured it in just four little lines. When I read it something clicked inside me, and I realized a truth that my mind and heart hadn’t been able to articulate before. I realized what I had done and what others had done to me was wrong, and I recognized why.
Love is supposed to be a force for good in this world and to use it as weapon feels like a great sin. Love should not be wielded like a sword. Love should not be destructive. Love should not leave shrapnel in your heart. Love should not be shot through the head and heart of another, leaving them damaged. Love should not be harnessed into a weapon of war.
Love should just be a fact of life. Love should be part of the universe that belongs to no one and everyone. Love should feel like a part of the everyday world around us. Love should be a truth, all of our truths.
Love should just exist.