Friday, 17 April 2015

Dikt; Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing av Margaret Atwood

The world is full of women
 who'd tell me I should be ashamed of myself
 if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
 Get some self-respect
 and a day job.
 Right. And minimum wage,
 and varicose veins, just standing
 in one place for eight hours
 behind a glass counter
 bundled up to the neck, instead of
 naked as a meat sandwich.
 Selling gloves, or something.
 Instead of what I do sell.
 You have to have talent
 to peddle a thing so nebulous
 and without material form.
 Exploited, they'd say. Yes, any way
 you cut it, but I've a choice
 of how, and I'll take the money.


I do give value.
 Like preachers, I sell vision,
 like perfume ads, desire
 or its facsimile. Like jokes
 or war, it's all in the timing.
 I sell men back their worse suspicions:
 that everything's for sale,
 and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see
 a chain-saw murder just before it happens,
 when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple
 are still connected.
 Such hatred leaps in them,
 my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary
 hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads
 and upturned eyes, imploring
 but ready to snap at my ankles,
 I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge
 to step on ants. I keep the beat,
 and dance for them because
 they can't. The music smells like foxes,
 crisp as heated metal
 searing the nostrils
 or humid as August, hazy and languorous
 as a looted city the day after,
 when all the rape's been done
 already, and the killing,
 and the survivors wander around
 looking for garbage
 to eat, and there's only a bleak exhaustion.
 Speaking of which, it's the smiling
 tires me out the most.
 This, and the pretence
 that I can't hear them.
 And I can't, because I'm after all
 a foreigner to them.
 The speech here is all warty gutturals,
 obvious as a slab of ham,
 but I come from the province of the gods
 where meanings are lilting and oblique.
 I don't let on to everyone,
 but lean close, and I'll whisper:
 My mother was raped by a holy swan.
 You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.
 That's what we tell all the husbands.
 There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

Not that anyone here
 but you would understand.
 The rest of them would like to watch me
 and feel nothing. Reduce me to components
 as in a clock factory or abattoir.
 Crush out the mystery.
 Wall me up alive
 in my own body.
 They'd like to see through me,
 but nothing is more opaque
 than absolute transparency.
 Look--my feet don't hit the marble!
 Like breath or a balloon, I'm rising,
 I hover six inches in the air
 in my blazing swan-egg of light.
 You think I'm not a goddess?
 Try me.
 This is a torch song.
 Touch me and you'll burn.

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