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Elizabeth Bishop (Элизабет Бишоп)


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's other poems:
  1. O Breath
  2. The Monument
  3. Visits to St. Elizabeths
  4. Sandpiper
  5. View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress


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