Using the stark language of cold glaciers and barren deserts, Margaret Atwood paints a picture of marriage as something that survives on the very peripheries of primitive forces and natural epics. Not a house or even a tent, it's a place where we are 'learning to make fire', as though we are still in the very first and most primal stages of the endeavor.
We must endeavor to rise above the patterns set out for us by others, according to Stafford, and not follow in a line like elephants holding each other's tails; it is imperative, he writes, that 'awake people be awake' since 'the darkness around us is deep'.
For the former Unitarian minister, relations with other people evoke in us the call towards both truth and tenderness, asking at their highest level not for daintiness, but for the 'roughest courage.
Tria Chang's poem, I Was Once in Love, talks about the possibilities and pitfalls of relationships and how things can so easily slip out of balance.