Poetry Month: The Explorers (Atwood)

The Explorers

The explorers will come
in several minutes
and find this island.

(It is a stunted island,
rocky, with room
for only a few trees, a thin
layer of soil; hardly bigger than a bed.
That is how
they’ve missed it
until now)

Already their boats draw near,
their flags flutter,
their oars push at the water.

They will be jubilant
and shout, at finding
that there was something
they had not found before,

although this island will afford
not much more than a foothold;
little to explore;

but they will be surprised

(we can’t see them yet;
we know they must be
coming, because they always come
several minutes too late)

(they won’t be able
to tell how long
we were cast away, or why,
or, from these
gnawed bones,
which was the survivor)

at the two skeletons
– Margaret Atwood, from The Circle Game

Atwood has an official site with info about her novels, poetry and more.

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2 thoughts on “Poetry Month: The Explorers (Atwood)

  1. I love the rhythm that the alternating parenthetical asides lend to the poem. It’s like the slow, lazy lapping of the waves on the shore, flowing in and then receding back into the ocean. With each line the boat gets closer. By the time we reach the end of the poem, we are as surprised as the explorers will be when they find out what we’ve found out. Thanks for posting.

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