Does the body lie
moving like this, are these
touches, hairs, wet
soft marble my tongue runs over
lies you are telling me?
Your body is not a word,
it does not lie or
speak truth either.
It is only
here or not here.
Secrecy flows through you,
a different kind of blood.
It’s as if you’ve eaten it
like a bad candy,
taken it into your mouth,
let it melt sweetly on your tongue,
then allowed it to slide down your throat
like the reverse of uttering,
a word dissolved
into its glottals and sibilants,
a slow intake of breath —
And now it’s in you, secrecy.
Ancient and vicious, luscious
as dark velvet.
It blooms in you,
a poppy made of ink.
“When I am lonely for boys it’s their bodies I miss. I study their hands lifting the cigarettes in the darkness of the movie theaters, the slope of a shoulder, the angle of a hip. Looking at them sideways, I examine them in different lights. My love for them is visual: that is the part of them I would like to possess. Don’t move, I think. Stay like that, let me have that.” —
Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye
“If you get hungry enough, they say, you start eating your own heart.” — Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
More and more frequently the edges
of me dissolve and I become
a wish to assimilate the world, including
you, if possible through the skin
like a cool plant’s tricks with oxygen
and live by a harmless green burning.
I would not consume
you or ever
finish, you would still be there
surrounding me, complete
as the air.
“Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.” — Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride
“She imagines him imagining her. This is her salvation.
In spirit she walks the city, traces its labyrinths, its dingy mazes: each assignation, each rendezvous, each door and stair and bed. What he said, what she said, what they did, what they did then. Even the times they argued, fought, parted, agonized, rejoined. How they’d loved to cut themselves on each other, taste their own blood. We were ruinous together, she thinks. But how else can we live, these days, except in the midst of ruin?” — Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
“Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth.” — Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
“On these occasions I read quickly, voraciously, almost skimming, trying to get as much into my head as possible before the next long starvation. If it were eating it would be gluttony of the famished; if it were sex it would be a swift furtive stand-up in an alley somewhere.” — Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“They wore blouses with buttons down the front that suggested the possibilities of the word undone. These women could be undone; or not. They seemed to be able to choose.” — Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“But in the end, back she comes. There’s no use resisting. She goes to him for amnesia, for oblivion. She renders herself up, is blotted out; enters the darkness of her own body, forgets her name. Immolation is what she wants, however briefly. To exist without boundaries.” — Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
“Screw poetry, it’s you I want,
your taste, rain
on you, mouth on your skin.” — Margaret Atwood, Late Night
“Here is a handful
of shadow I have brought back to you:
this decay, this hope, this mouth-
ful of dirt, this poetry.” —
Margaret Atwood, from “Mushrooms” in Selected Poems: Volume 2
“Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word - musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.” —
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood