Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

Bored


All those times I was bored
out of my mind. Holding the log
while he sawed it. Holding
the string while he measured, boards,
distances between things, or pounded
stakes into the ground for rows and rows
of lettuces and beets, which I then (bored)
weeded. Or sat in the back
of the car, or sat still in boats,
sat, sat, while at the prow, stern, wheel
he drove, steered, paddled. It
wasn't even boredom, it was looking,
looking hard and up close at the small
details. Myopia. The worn gunwales,
the intricate twill of the seat
cover. The acid crumbs of loam, the granular
pink rock, its igneous veins, the sea-fans
of dry moss, the blackish and then the graying
bristles on the back of his neck.
Sometimes he would whistle, sometimes
I would. The boring rhythm of doing
things over and over, carrying
the wood, drying
the dishes. Such minutiae. It's what
the animals spend most of their time at,
ferrying the sand, grain by grain, from their tunnels,
shuffling the leaves in their burrows. He pointed
such things out, and I would look
at the whorled texture of his square finger, earth under
the nail. Why do I remember it as sunnier
all the time then, although it more often
rained, and more birdsong?
I could hardly wait to get
the hell out of there to
anywhere else. Perhaps though
boredom is happier. It is for dogs or
groundhogs. Now I wouldn't be bored.
Now I would know too much.
Now I would know.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Megan Beam (10/17/2006 2:40:00 AM)

    I loved this poem, although it left me feeling very sad. It made me think a lot about my days spent at home, not only because we did some of the same things, living in the country, but because I had some of the same feelings. I always tried to not be bored and to appreciate everything my parents and I did together, because I knew time was going to go by fast, and I would miss those days. Just like everything other big change in my life, no matter how much I thought I knew how I would feel, I underestimated my emotions. It is impossible to be predict your feelings until you are feeling them....the full extent of them.
    It was hard not to be bored, sometimes, though. Driving around in the mountains, picking vegetables, going hunting....I was annoying a lot of times. Did not appreciate it enough, although I did realize the importance of it. I am lucky enough now to be able to still occasionally do those activities with my family, who I love so much. After reading this poem I feel even closer to them and want to see them as soon as possible, spend time with them, and know how much I love them. (Report) Reply

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