Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

Variation On The Word Sleep


I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and as you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • CR Mittal (12/15/2005 11:55:00 AM)

    This poem may be enjoyed as a vision of the divine entering your subconscious and leading you through hell to your ultimate destiny in heaven - an encore of Dante's spiritual pilgrimage.

    One can cherish the poem as a scriptural tour de force.

    CR Mittal (Report) Reply

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