The Moment

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

by Margaret Atwood

Comments (22)

'We never belonged to you. You never found us. It was always the other way round' - the concluding lines of the poem are overwhelmingly convincing!
this good poem is the equivalent of a knock upside the head. it expresses the assertion of every native-american spirituality i'm aware of which is, in turn, reminiscent of the biblical assertion, the earth is the Lord's. -gk
You own nothing. You were a visitor, time after time climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming........................ flag it high. It's poetry which can show us the reality of real life. Thanks for sharing.
The birds take back their language.. great write
How very true this is! Our scriptures also confirm that nothing belongs to us. We are all tenants and everything is just an illusion; now here, sometimes there...Lovely poem.
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