Filling Station


Oh, but it is dirty!
–this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it’s a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color–
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:
ESSO–SO–SO–SO

to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.

—Elizabeth Bishop

____________________

Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1911, but spent part of her childhood with her Canadian grandparents after her father’s death and mother’s hospitalization. Of her childhood she noted, “My relatives all felt so sorry for this child that they tried to do their very best. And I think they did. I lived with my grandparents in Nova Scotia, then with the ones in Worcester, in Massachusetts, very briefly and got terribly sick. This was when I was six and seven…. Then I lived with my mother’s older sister in Boston, she was devoted to me — she had no children. My relationship with my relatives — I was always sort of a guest, and I think I’ve always felt like that.”

Elizabeth Bishop won virtually every poetry prize in the country although she insisted, “They don’t mean too much.” Her first book, North & South, won the Houghton Mifflin Poetry Award for 1946. In 1955, she received the Pulitzer Prize for a volume containing North & South and A Cold Spring. Her next book of poetry, Questions of Travel (1965), won the National Book Award and was followed by The Complete Poems in 1969. Geography III (1976) received the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1976, Miss Bishop became both the first American and the first woman to win the Books Abroad/Neustadt Prize for Literature.

Elizabeth Bishop died on October 6, 1979. A new edition of her poems, The Complete Poems, 1927-1979, was published in early 1983, and The Collected Prose was published in 1984.

Of her work, Robert Lowell remarked, “Elizabeth Bishop is the contemporary poet that I admire most …. There’s a beautiful completeness to all of Bishop’s poetry. I don’t think anyone alive has a better eye than she had: The eye that sees things and the mind behind the eye that remembers.”

✥❆✥❆✥❆✥❆✥

Advertisements
Published in: on May 2, 2010 at 2:58 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,