My eyes bulge and hurt. They are my
one great beauty, even
so. They see too much, above, below. And yet, there is
to see. The rain has stopped. The mist is gathering on
in drops. The drops run down my back, run from the
my downturned mouth, run down my sides and drip
my belly. Perhaps the droplets on my mottled hide are
like dewdrops, silver on a moldering leaf? They chill
through and through. I feel my colors changing now, my
ments gradually shudder and shift over.
Now I shall get beneath that
overhanging ledge. Slowly. Hop.
Two or three times more, silently. That was too far.
standing up. The lichen's gray, and rough to my front
down. Turn facing out, it's safer. Don't breathe until
gets by. But we go travelling the same weathers.
Swallow the air and mouthfuls of cold mist. Give
once. O how it echoed from the rock! What a profound,
bell I rang!
I live, I breathe, by swallowing.
Once, some naughty children
picked me up, me and two brothers. They set us down
somewhere and in our mouths they put lit cigarettes.
not help but smoke them, to the end. I thought it was
of me, but when I was entirely filled with smoke, when
mouth was burning, and all my tripes were hot and dry,
let us go. But I was sick for days.
I have big shoulders, like a boxer.
They are not muscle,
however, and their color is dark. They are my sacs of
the almost unused poison that I bear, my burden and my
responsibility. Big wings of poison, folded on my
I am an angel in disguise; my wings are evil, but not
I will it, the poison could break through, blue-black,
dangerous to all. Blue-black fumes would rise upon the
Beware, you frivolous crab.
"[Elizabeth] Bishop was fortunate to launch her career at a time when she could choose among a wide range of
viable poetic idioms. She seems never to have felt that oppression in the face of the achievement of her modernist predecessors that James
Breslin argues was an essential characteristic of her generation. Some twenty years earlier, pioneers like Pound, Williams, Stevens, and
Marianne Moore had had to grope and experiment, freeing themselves from outdated models...
before they could originate a suitable style and voice...." Elizabeth Bishop: Her Artistic Development,
Thomas J. Travisano (1988)