Saturday Verses: Margaret Atwood’s GASOLINE

Posted 12 April, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

Confession: I’m not big on poetry. But, in line with both National Poetry Month and my Margaret Atwood project I’ve picked up a few collections of Margaret Atwood’s poetry.

The Door is a collection that was published in 2007 and the copy that I checked out from the library came with an audio CD of the author reading the poems herself. So I popped it in to listen to on the way home. The very first poem in the collection really struck me on a number of levels. So, here it is.


Shivering in the almost-drizzle
inside the wooden outboard,
nose over gunwale,
I watch it drip and spread
on the sheenless water:

the bright thing in wartime,
a slick of rainbow,
ephemeral as insect wings,
green, blue, red, and pink,
my shimmering private sideshow.

Was this my best toy, then?
This toxic smudge, this overspill
from a sloppy gascan filled
with the essence of danger?

I knew it was poison,
its beauty an illusion:
I could spell flammable.

But still, I loved the smell:
so alien, a whiff
of starstuff.

I would have liked to drink it,
inhale its iridescence.
As if I could.
That’s how gods lived: as if.

What do you think it MEANS, Reader? I want to talk about it, but I want to hear your thoughts first, before I poison them! 

April @ The Steadfast Reader


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