Margaret Atwood, The Door (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007): 16-17.
1My mother dwindles and dwindles
2and lives and lives.
3Her strong heart drives her
4as heedless as an engine
5through one night after another.
6Everyone says This can't go on,
7but it does.
8It's like watching somebody drown.
9If she were a boat, you'd say
10the moon shines through her ribs
11and no one's steering,
12yet she can't be said to be drifting;
13somebody's in there.
14Her blind eyes light her way.
15Outside, in her derelict garden,
16the weeds grow almost audibly:
17nightshade, goldenrod, thistle.
18Each time I hack them down
19another wave spills forward,
20up towards her window.
21They batter the brick wall slowly,
22muffle border and walkway,
23slurring her edges.
24Her old order of words
25collapses in on itself.
26Today, after weeks of silence,
27she made a sentence:
28I don't think so.
29I hold her hand, I whisper,
31If I said Goodbye instead,
32if I said, Let go,
33what would she do?
34But I can't say it.
35I promised to see this through,
36whatever that may mean.
37What can I possibly tell her?
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"My Mother Dwindles …" © Margaret Atwood. Printed gratis, and specifically for <i>Representative Poetry Online</i>, with permission of the author. As published in <i>The Door</i> (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007). Any other use, including reproduction for any purposes, educational or otherwise, will require explicit written permission from Margaret Atwood.