(from Morning in the Burned House)
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.
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 greying 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.
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.
“Bored” by Margaret Atwood, from Morning in the Burned House.