My dreams are haunted by flocks (flocks? herds?) of genetically modified pigs after my blood.

I blame Margaret Atwood. I finally got around to reading Oryx and Crake. It’s only been twelve years since she wrote it…. It’s a fantastic book, bursting with more ideas than most authors would spin into half a dozen novels.  She deserves the Nobel prize for literature. This one kept reminding me of Kurt Vonnegut, only darker and better.


Amongst other things she raised the idea that death isn’t the problem…it is our awareness of its inevitability that causes all the trouble. If we could just keel over surprisingly one day (and if the rest of us were unable to translate such events into our own future possibility) the world would look very different. Better or worse? Hard to say. It is so far into the realms of the hypothetical it is hard to even imagine. Our awareness of mortality is so fundamental to the human condition, we would not even be recognizably human if it were not present. The book presents a vision of what such a creature might look like.

She also picks up on the same idea as The Handmaid’s Tale, that our reproductive habits are just insane and needlessly problematic. Here she comes up with another alternative solution, but again the end result is not, in fact, quite human at all.

And that’s the trouble. Take away all the things that make being human such a pain in the butt, and what’s left is alien. A different species altogether. That’s why you have to embrace all the goo. Without it, we would not be us.

She’s a damn fine poet too, one of those people who can craft in any form, and that’s a rare gift. Here’s a famous one that I like.


Variation on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and as you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.


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