It is Difficult to Say

23 August 2013
11:45 AM
Manila

M.–

I want to tell you so many things. But I feel blocked. Stuck. I have dragged myself here, to this clearing, but I find that the well is empty, there are no words, and I can’t offer you anything just yet.

This Is a Photograph of Me
Margaret Atwood

It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you can see something in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or how small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion.

but if you look long enough
eventually
you will see me.)

I’ll try again tomorrow.

T.

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