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This Moment

Into my empty head there come 
a cotton beach, a dock wherefrom

I set out, oily and nude
through mist, in chilly solitude.

There was no line, no roof or floor
to tell the water from the air.

Night fog thick as terry cloth
closed me in its fuzzy growth.

I hung my bathrobe on two pegs.
I took the lake between my legs.

Invaded and invader, I
went overhand on that flat sky.

Fish twitched beneath me, quick and tame.
In their green zone they sang my name

and in the rhythm of the swim
I hummed a two-four-time slow hymn.

I hummed "Abide With Me." The beat
rose in the fine thrash of my feet,

rose in the bubbles I put out
slantwise, trailing through my mouth.

My bones drank water; water fell
through all my doors. I was the well

that fed the lake that met my sea
in which I sang "Abide With Me."

—Eavan Boland

from In a Time of Violence, 1994
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, NY

Copyright 1994 by Eavan Boland.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. from In a Time of Violence. Copyright 1994 by Eavan Boland. For further permissions information, contact W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Eavan Boland (1944- ) was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1944. The daughter of a diplomat and a painter, Boland spent her girlhood in London and New York, returning to Ireland to attend secondary school in Killiney and later university at Trinity College in Dublin. He is the author of numerous poetry collections, including A Woman Without a Country: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2014).

Learn more about Eavan Boland at The Poetry Foundation.