Margaret Atwood on Boxing

The moment when, after many years

of hard work and a long voyage

you stand in the centre of the ring,

bruised, half-lucid, smashed nose, eyes sealed, content,

knowing at last how you got there,

and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the fans unloose,

their soft arms form around you,

the media take back their language,

the posts 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, pretender after pretender

climbing the ranks, planting the flag, proclaiming.

The title never belonged to you.

You never conquered the ring. 

It was always the other way round. 

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