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Black Water

Submerged in water, it was the fourth of July on Grayling Island, the Senator’s rented Toyota whistling tunes of the Beatles, topics of debate: the Vietnam War, Dukakis, skidded off the road. Lizzie, “Kelly” they are not the same, she can’t die like this, no not now. She was someone’s little girl, not a bad girl, she wasn’t a bad girl, she told her mother she wasn’t don’t mention G____, was she ready? Her white anklet socks flew into the air as massive male hands, Grandpa’s hands, swept her off her feet saving her from the black waters rushing in, they didn’t have to know, they wouldn’t have to tell Grandma, Grandpa was spared, he died several years before. Kelly wrote a paper on the senator, her senior thesis, she grabbed on to his leg, his shoe, “oh how Buffy would laugh, his shoe, his empty shoe?”, she wasn’t pretty, but it was her time, she didn’t believe in the stars, but today she listened to her horoscope: go for what you really want, or something to that effect, black water rushed in and she died; she’s here, she’s here, SHE’S HERE!, “caution: ultra-violet rays, saltwater swimming, and overheated blow dryers are serious dangers to Beautiful Hair,” Pluto was not originally a man but a woman, black water rushed in and she died.

To die an unfinished life. To exist only as a faded memory. To cry but not be heard. Life’s uncertainty and ill-felt fate surrendered to death’s deceptive, cumbersome realm in Joyce Carol Oates’ “Black Water”. Oates created a world in which the subconcious overcame reality, where confusion and uncertainty overcame monotimy. Throughout Oates’ novel sex, life, naivete, death, and eternity all shared a common link. Kelly Kelleher, a twenty-six year old in the prime of her life succumbed to the “b…

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…ies to make the reader feel and understand. The author grasped the ability to create a link between G____’s suppressive weight during their[Kelly and G___’s] love-making and the suppressive weight of the senator as he dented Kelly’s body. Kelly starved herself as a source of discipline, she gave in to man’s desires, she was ignorant of the true intentions of people and her surroundings. “You’re in politics, you’re an optimist. You’re no longer an optimist, you’re no longer in politics. You’re no longer an optimist, you’re dead.” She was an optimist, even in her remaining moments and she still died. Optimism failed to shield her from her inconceivable fate. The world failed her, life failed her, hope failed her. Trapped in her metallic dented coffin, she dreamed of the “future”. “If I can still see it, I am still alive.” Black waters rushed in and she died.

Use of Photographs in This Is a Photograph of Me and Photograph, 1958

Use of Photographs in This Is a Photograph of Me and Photograph, 1958

At first glance, “This Is a Photograph of Me” by Margaret Atwood and “Photograph, 1958” by Patricia Young are strikingly similar works in that both poems utilize the imagery of a photograph as a communication device however, upon closer examination they differ markedly in the approach each poet takes in utilizing this same device. The similarities between these two poems are immediately obvious to the reader; both poems are written by female poets, both poems have the poet as the speaker, both poems describe how the poet feels about herself, and both poems utilize the photograph as a device to convey their message to the reader. Less obvious, is the differing approaches taken by each poet.

In the poem “This Is a Photograph of Me” by Margaret Atwood, the photograph is used by the poet as a device to directly communicate her message to the reader. The title of the poem announces in a direct and forthright way that the poem will be a self examination. The poem begins with Atwood directly and literally describing the photograph itself: “It was taken some time ago. / At first it seems to be / a smeared / print: blurred lines and grey flecks / blended with the paper.” The poet’s use of words like “smeared”, “blurred” and “blended” immediately and directly communicates to the reader that the poet feels unclear, directionless and without focus.

After this opening stanza, the poet begins to describe the contents of the photograph: “then as you scan / it, you see in the left-hand corner / a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree” and “to the right, halfway up / what ought to be a gentle / slope, a small frame house.” Margaret Atwood is gradually drawing the reader inward, from the outside edge of the photograph towards the center of the photograph, the poem, and the poet herself. This can be seen clearly on the following lines: “I am in the lake, in the center / of the picture, just under the surface.” The atmosphere created is one of introspection and self examination: “but if you look long enough, / eventually / you will be able to see me.” Atwood is using the device of the photograph to draw the reader from the outside world inwards to her world in the center of the photograph.

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