Sunday Poem

“Oh, nation, think hard on which who of you
you choose to rule the house
because it is not easy (once it's in)
to evict the soul of a louse.” —Roshi Bob

The Double Voice

Two voices
took turns using my eyes:
One had manners,
painted in watercolours,
used hushed tones when speaking
of mountains or Niagara Falls,
composed uplifting verse
and expended sentiment upon the poor.

The other voice
had other knowledge:
that men sweat
always and drink often,
that pigs are pigs
but must be eaten
anyway, that unborn babies
fester like wounds in the body,
that there is nothing to be done
about mosquitoes;

One saw through my
bleared and gradually
bleaching eyes, red leaves,
the rituals of seasons and rivers

The other found a dead dog
jubilant with maggots
half-buried among the sweet peas.

by Margaret Atwood
from Selected Poems
Touchstone Books, 1976