'Dear Deborah' by Deborah Ager

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La Petite Zine2002They tell me that your heart
has been found in Iowa,
pumping along Interstate 35.
Do you want it back?When the cold comes on
this fast, it's Iowa again-
where pollen disperses
evenly on the dented Fords,where white houses sag
by the town's corn silos,
where people in the houses
sicken on corn dust.Auctions sell entire farms.
It's not the auctions that's upsetting
but what they sell, the ragged towel
or the armless doll, for a dollar.I hear they've found
an eye of yours in Osceola
calling out to your mouth in Davis City.
That mouth of yours is in the bar,the only place left in town,
slow dancing and smoking.
It's no wonder you look so pale.
Ever wish you'd done morewith your thirty years?
Seeing you last week I wonder
if you crave that sky
filled with the milky wayor the sight of Amish girls in blue
at sunset against wheat-colored prairie grass.
Here, the trees are full of gossip.
They're waiting to see what you'll do next.

Editor 1 Interpretation

An Examination of "Dear Deborah" by Deborah Ager

As a literary work, "Dear Deborah" by Deborah Ager is a complex and multifaceted poem that draws upon a range of literary techniques and devices to create a compelling and thought-provoking piece of writing. From its use of imagery and metaphor to its exploration of themes of love, loss, and self-discovery, the poem offers readers a rich and engaging experience.

The Poem

The poem begins with the speaker addressing the writer, Deborah, and expressing their admiration for her work. The speaker then reflects on the nature of love and the ways in which it can both inspire and torment those who experience it. This reflection is conveyed through a series of vivid and evocative images, such as "the moon like a thin-skinned grape" and "the wind like a knife in the sky".

As the poem progresses, the speaker's thoughts turn to the challenges and uncertainties that come with love, particularly the fear of loss and the realization that even the most intense and passionate relationships may eventually come to an end. The speaker expresses a sense of resignation and acceptance in the face of this reality, recognizing that the pain of love can be just as powerful and transformative as the joy and ecstasy it brings.


One of the central themes of "Dear Deborah" is the nature of love and its many complexities. Through its use of imagery and metaphor, the poem explores the various emotions that love can evoke, from joy and ecstasy to pain and heartbreak. The poem also touches on the idea that love is a transformative force that can change us in fundamental ways, both for better and for worse.

Another key theme of the poem is the idea of self-discovery and personal growth. The speaker's journey through the highs and lows of love is presented as a catalyst for self-reflection and inner exploration, as they grapple with the complexities of human emotion and the challenges of navigating intimate relationships.


One possible interpretation of "Dear Deborah" is that it serves as a meditation on the nature of love and its transformative power. The poem suggests that love is a force that can inspire us to great heights of joy and passion, but also one that can bring us crashing down to earth in moments of heartbreak and despair. However, despite the pain and uncertainty that love can bring, the poem ultimately suggests that these experiences can lead to personal growth and self-discovery.

Another interpretation of the poem is that it is a reflection on the creative process itself. The speaker's admiration for Deborah's work could be seen as a metaphor for the relationship between a writer and their craft, with the highs and lows of love serving as a metaphor for the challenges and rewards of the creative process. In this interpretation, the poem suggests that the creative journey is one that is full of both joy and pain, but ultimately one that can lead to profound personal growth and transformation.

Literary Techniques

The use of imagery and metaphor is one of the key literary techniques employed in "Dear Deborah". Through its vivid and evocative descriptions of the moon, the wind, and other natural phenomena, the poem creates a rich sensory landscape that immerses the reader in the speaker's emotional world. The use of metaphor also allows the poem to explore complex ideas and emotions in a way that is both accessible and powerful.

Another important literary technique used in the poem is repetition. The repetition of phrases such as "Dear Deborah" and "Love is" serves to create a sense of rhythm and momentum, while also emphasizing the central themes of the poem. The repetition of certain words and phrases also serves to reinforce the emotional impact of certain moments, such as when the speaker describes the pain of love as "an abyss".


In conclusion, "Dear Deborah" by Deborah Ager is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the complexities of love, self-discovery, and the creative process. Through its use of vivid imagery, metaphor, and repetition, the poem creates a rich and immersive experience that engages the reader on both an intellectual and emotional level. Whether read as a meditation on love, a reflection on the creative process, or both, "Dear Deborah" is a work of literature that is sure to resonate with readers for years to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Dear Deborah: A Poem of Love and Longing

Deborah Ager’s poem “Dear Deborah” is a beautiful and poignant expression of love and longing. The poem is written in the form of a letter, addressed to the poet herself, and it explores the complex emotions of a woman who is deeply in love but unable to be with the object of her affection.

The poem begins with a simple statement of fact: “I miss you.” This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is filled with a sense of longing and yearning. The speaker goes on to describe the ways in which she misses Deborah, from the sound of her voice to the way she smells. The language is simple and direct, but it is also deeply emotional and evocative.

As the poem progresses, the speaker reveals more about her feelings for Deborah. She describes how she thinks about her constantly, how she dreams of her at night, and how she longs to be with her. The language becomes more intense and passionate, as the speaker expresses her desire to be close to Deborah and to feel her touch.

One of the most striking things about this poem is the way in which it captures the complexity of love and desire. The speaker is clearly deeply in love with Deborah, but she is also aware of the obstacles that stand in the way of their relationship. She acknowledges that they are both in relationships with other people, and that they cannot be together. This awareness only intensifies her longing, however, as she imagines what it would be like to be with Deborah and to experience the fullness of their love.

The poem is also notable for its use of imagery and metaphor. The speaker compares her longing for Deborah to a hunger that cannot be satisfied, and she describes her love as a flame that burns brightly but cannot be extinguished. These images are powerful and evocative, and they help to convey the intensity of the speaker’s emotions.

Overall, “Dear Deborah” is a beautiful and moving poem that captures the complexity of love and desire. It is a testament to the power of language to express the deepest emotions of the human heart, and it is a reminder that even in the face of obstacles and challenges, love can still shine brightly.

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