Thursday, January 22, 2015

"They Are Hostile Nations"

In Margaret Atwood's poem "They Are Hostile Nations" (from her 1971 collection Power Politics) gender relations are likened to warring countries.

Re-reading the poem today, all sorts of things come to mind. When Atwood writes "Put down the target of me/ you guard inside your binoculars," I am reminded of surveillance videos like the one above, but also of the red dot "(your vulnerable/ sections marked in red)" [0:35-0:41] that certain commercial gallerists place beside a work sold during the course of an exhibition.




In view of the fading animals
the proliferation of sewers and fears   
the sea clogging, the air
nearing extinction

we should be kind, we should
take warning, we should forgive each other

Instead we are opposite, we   
touch as though attacking,

the gifts we bring
even in good faith maybe   
warp in our hands to
implements, to manoeuvres


Put down the target of me
you guard inside your binoculars,   
in turn I will surrender

this aerial photograph   
(your vulnerable
sections marked in red)   
I have found so useful

See, we are alone in
the dormant field, the snow
that cannot be eaten or captured


Here there are no armies   
here there is no money

It is cold and getting colder,

We need each others’
breathing, warmth, surviving   
is the only war
we can afford, stay

walking with me, there is almost   
time / if we can only   
make it as far as

the (possibly) last summer

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