Friday 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 side
of her there are street of brown
brick houses; cars go by; on the
fourth 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 swings down.
Soon it will be zero.

With arms wide the skater
turns, leaver her break like a diver’s
trail of bubble.

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 sauces) on time
sustained, above
time circling:……. miracle
Over all I place
a glass bell

by Margaret Atwood
from Selected Poems
Oxford University Press, 1976