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A Boat

by Margaret Atwood

Evening comes on and the hills thicken;

red and yellow bleaching out of the leaves.
The chill pines grow their shadows.

Below them the water stills itself,
a sunset shivering in it.
One more going down to join the others.

Now the lake expands
and closes in, both.

The blackness that keeps itself
under the surface in daytime
emerges from it like mist
or as mist.

Distance vanishes, the absence
of distance pushes against the eyes.

There is no seeing the lake,
only the outlines of the hills
which are almost identical,

familiar to me as sleep,
shores unfolding upon shores
in their contours of slowed breathing.

It is touch I go by,
the boat like a hand feeling
through shoals and among
dead trees, over the boulders
lifting unseen, layer
on layer of drowned time falling away.

This is how I learned to steer
through darkness by no stars.

To be lost is only a failure of memory.

“A Boat” by Margaret Atwood, from Selected Poems II: 1976-1986. © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1987. Reprinted with permission.

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No great comments, just like the mental picture and the idea of the darkening lake.

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the days shrink

the night frays the edges

a little more

every morning

the sun is later

deeper shadows and darkness is

coming

.

flowers wither

stems straggle and trail

brown

limp

the year grows cold

so tiredly

.

“do not go gently”

.

time to remember

to make our nests warm

pull our memories around us

this laughter

those tears

that life

wisped away in the smoke of burning leaves

.

in the shadows what waits

in darkness we know nothing

ghouls

monsters

goblins

we give face to

fear

of our own mortality

.

“do not go gently”

.

let the dark trickle in

an impulse

a choice

a flood of the other side of us

and one more light is

gone

.

better to cling to light

turn towards day

the morning star

not the wicked red points of

eyes

in the dark

.

when we see the hovering shadow

as the year creaks to the end

do we choose to fight that

darkness

or embrace it?

allow evil within the walls

or turn and cast up a defense

of light?

.

“do not go gently”

.

“Stay with us, Lord Jesus; it soon is evening, and night is falling.”

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