Roominghouse, Winter

Original Text: 
Margaret Atwood, Selected Poems (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1976): 57-58.
1Catprints, dogprints, marks
2of ancient children
3have made the paths we follow
4to the vestibule, piled
5with overshoes, ownerless letters
6a wooden sled.
7The threadbare treads
8on the stairs. The trails
9worn by alien feet
10in time through the forest snowdrifts
11of the corridor to this remnant, this
12discarded door
 
13What disturbs me in the bathroom
14is the unclaimed toothbrush.
15In the room itself, none
16of the furniture is mine.
17The plates are on the table
18to weight it down.
19I call you sometimes
20To make sure you are still there.
21Tomorrow, when you come to dinner
22They will tell you I never lived here.
23My window is a funnel
24for the shapes of chaos
25    In the backyard, frozen bones, the childrens'
26    voices, derelict
27    objects
28Inside, the wall
29bickles; the pressure
30balanced by this clear
31small silence.
32We must resist. We must refuse
33to disappear
 
34I said, In exile
35survival
36is the first necessity.
37After that (I say this
38tentatively)
39we might begin
40Survive what? you said.
41In the weak light you looked
42over your shoulder.
43                                  You said
 
44Nobody ever survives.
Publication Notes: 
The Animals in that Country (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1968).
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2009
Special Copyright: 

"Roominghouse, Winter" &#169; Margaret Atwood. Printed gratis, and specifically for <i>Representative Poetry Online</i>, with permission of the author. As published in <i>Selected Poems</i> (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1976). Any other use, including reproduction for any purposes, educational or otherwise, will require explicit written permission from Margaret Atwood.