Poem of the Week: My Mother Dwindles by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

My Mother Dwindles

My mother dwindles and dwindles
and lives and lives.
Her strong heart drives her
as heedless as an engine
through one night after another.
Everyone says, This can’t go on,
but it does.
It’s like watching someone drown.

If she were a boat, you’d say
the moon shines through her ribs
and no one’s steering,
yet she can’t be said to be drifting;
somebody’s in there.
Her blind eyes light her way.

Outside, in her derelict garden,
the weeds grow almost audibly:
nightshade, goldenrod, thistle.
Each time I hack them down
another wave spills forward,
up towards her window.
They batter the brick wall slowly,

muffle border and walkway,
slurring her edges.
Her old order of words
collapses in on itself.
Today, after weeks of silence,
she made a sentence:
I don’t think so.

I hold her hand, I whisper,
Hello, hello.
If I said Goodbye instead,
if I said, Let go,
what would she do?

But I can’t say it.
I promised to see this through,
whatever that may mean.
What can I possibly tell her?
I’m here.
I’m here.

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Categories: Poems

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