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Atonement, by Ian McEwan

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I wrote the following poem while waiting for my battery to be replaced and while completing the last part of Ian McEwan’s Atonement.

Snow falls like dead skin from a dry face.

Four-wheeled machines limp into service.

Not everything is alright with your vehicle.

Irritation, frowns, and worst of all boredom are the most common apparel in the waiting room, despite the renovations to the all-too-necessary Area for Long Period of Waiting.

It will be a relief to pay a large bill and leave.

But the machines are not the only things to fall apart.

Human bodies, for example.

Minds, too.

What will you do when tragedy knocks. And it Will knock.

Will you still see the snowflakes for their rare, beautiful arrangement. Will you further marvel at your arrangement of matter, which gave rise to a consciousness capable of remarking upon the floating, spinning, careening crystals?

Or will you see dandruff or dead skin. A reminder of dreadful impermanence. Of something lost never again to be rewon.

Your back aches slightly from the unfortunate chairs in the Area of Long Waiting. But maybe your spine is degenerating. On further introspection, you have plenty of time, you regret not having the backbone to confront the ills that befell you. You only made them worse. Just like the dull battery you neglected to have checked out five years ago.

Better late than never?

Your bill is four hundred forty-two dollars.”

Hm.” You nod as if considering having them remove the battery, in taking your business elsewhere.

Serviceman shrugs. But at least your alternator wasn’t broken, that would have been eight or nine hundred.”



Posted on March 30, 2018 • Source