Tuesday, March 06, 2007


~I've posted this before, but it was WAY back in the day, before there was one single soul (other than my own) reading this blog. i was just going through my archives, thinking about putting labels on my posts, and i decided that i should post this again. i hope you enjoy it, at least a little bit.~

from good bones, by margaret atwood (alien territory, part 7); for b.m.:

Those ones.
Why do women like them?
They have nothing to offer, none of the usual things. They have short attention spans, falling-apart clothes, old beat-up cars, if any. The cars break down, and they try to fix them, and they don't succeed, and give up. They go on long walks from which they forget to return.
They prefer weeds to flowers.
They tell trivial fibs.
They perform clumsy tricks with oranges and pieces of string, hoping desperately that someone will laugh. They don't put food on the table. They don't make money.
Don't, can't, won't.

They offer nothing.
They offer the great clean sweep of nothing, the unseen sky during a blizzard, the dark pause between moon and moon. They offer their poverty, an empty wooden bowl; the bowl of a beggar, whose gift is to ask.
Look into it, look down deep, where potential coils like smoke, and you might hear anything.
Nothing has yet been said.

They have bodies, however.
Their bodies are unlike the bodies of other men. Their bodies are verbalized. Mouth, eye, hand, foot, they say. Their bodies have weight, and move over the ground, step by step, like yours. Like you they roll in the hot mud of the sunlight, like you they are amazed by morning, like you they can taste the wind, like you they sing.
Love, they say, and at the time they always mean it, as you do also. They can say lust as well, and disgust; you wouldn't trust them otherwise. They say the worst things you have ever dreamed.
They open locked doors.
All is given to them for nothing.

They have their angers.They have their despair, which washes over them like grey ink, blanking them out, leaving them immobile, in metal kitchen chairs, beside closed windows, looking out at the brick walls of deserted factories, for years and years.
Yet nothing is with them, and from it they bring back messages:
Hurt, they say, and suddenly their bodies hurt again, like real bodies.
Death, they say, making the word sound like the backwash of a wave. Their bodies die, and waver, and turn to mist. And yet they can exist in two worlds at once: lost in the earth or eaten by flames, and here. In this room, when you re-say them, in their own words.

But why do women like them?
Not like, I mean to say: adore.
(Remember, that despite everything, despite all I have told you, the rusted cars, the greasy wardrobes, the lack of breakfasts, the hopelessness, remain the same.)
Because if they can say their own bodies, they could say yours also.
Because they could say skin as if it meant something, not only to them but to you.
Because one night, when the snow is falling and the moon is blotted out, they could put their empty hands, their hands filled with poverty, their beggar's hands, on your body, and bless it, and tell you it is made of light.


obviously, i adore margaret atwood.
if you haven't read the handmaid's tale or oryx and crake, i really think you should go pick them up right this minute and not leave the house again until you've read them.
oh, and the blind assassin is also very enjoyable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enthusiastically second the recommendation for Handmaid's Tale, the Blind Assassin not as much. But Atwood is a very good read.


1:42 PM  
Blogger tiffany said...

you would LOVE oryx and crake...go get it now.

go, on! go!

2:20 PM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I love Margret Atwood! I've read both The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake but nothing else. I really like this excerpt. Thanks for sharing it.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Mad Scientist said...

I have something profound to say:

I've never read anything by Margret Atwood.

And with that, I am now a cool person because I've contributed to the conversation, and your wonderful blog as well.

(uh, did it work?)

11:54 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

I haven't read any either.

I always feel bad when I admit I haven't read someone, since I am, after all, an english major.

This does entail me writing a bajillion words, which doesn't leave much time for the reading.

I will though. Promise.

1:22 AM  
Blogger Jessica Kramer said...

ooh love the poem. i'll have to re-read later. i have a book of her poems but i have to admit i've never really read it through. i love the Handmaid's Tale and Cat's Eye though.

i need to get back into novels. it's been forever since i read one. everything's poetry poetry poetry. and then i pick up some prose and it takes me about 8 years to read the first page because i'm analyzing things like line breaks...in a NOVEL...yeah.

12:29 PM  

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