Sunday Poem

Woman Skating
A lake sunken among
cedar and black spruce hills;
late afternoon.

On the ice a woman skating,
jacket sudden
red against the white.

concentrating on moving
in perfect circles.

,,,,, (actually she is my mother. She is
,,,,, over at the outdoor skating rink
,,,,, near the cemetery. On three sides
,,,,, of her there are streets of brown
,,,,, brick houses; cars go by; on the
,,,,, forth side is the park building.
,,,,, The snow banked around the rink
,,,,, is grey with soot. She never skates
,,,,, here. She’s wearing a sweater and
,,,,, faded maroon earmuffs, she has
,,,,, taken off her gloves)

Now near the horizon
the enlarged pink sun sweeps down.
Soon it will be zero.

With arms wide the skater
turns, leaving her breath like a diver’s
trail of bubbles.

Seeing the ice
as what it is, water:
seeing the months
as they are, the years
in sequence occurring
underfoot, watching
the miniature human
figure balanced on steel
needles (those compasses
floated in saucers) on time
sustained, above
time circling: miracle

Over all I place
a glass bell.

by Margaret Atwood
from Selected Poems
Simon and Shuster, 1976