To the Future (response to the Futurists) What I mean when I say anything Is that, in a desert, you need Water and a compass. To forget this Is to become suicidal. When I look at you, I see your skin With its constellation of moles And the train-wreck galaxy of eczema And this is at least part of what defines you As a “person.” I’m sorry. Without your border Of skin, you would not be a subject But a skinless corpse. I apologize again Because I am no postmodern woman— I have been told to be otherwise is to be the victim Of a historical mistake. I have been fooled by this body And its insistences, its constant nagging And miracles. What I mean when I say anything Is that I have my ration of truth, or naivete Or passeism, and I have more, even More than I need. And I am in a city That is starving for lack of money And not of food—and here— Have some— What I mean when I say anything Is that I mean. In this particular desert, To forget suicide, to embrace an apologetic skin, Embarrassingly old-fashioned, The miracle of femininity and sentiment Nothing like a car riding on grapeshot. Just a hundred suns of chemical joy Pumping through our softly-fortified Animal cells, this life, this glory.
Circe, by Wright Baker "One day you simply appeared in your stupid boat," "Circe/ Mud Poems," Margaret Atwood, from You Are Happy I was alerted to this poem series by Estella Lauter's great chapter, "Margaret Atwood: Remythologizing Circe" from Women as Mythmakers. If you have the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, there is an excerpt in Vol. 2. And here is some interesting discussion of the text as well.