Elizabeth Bishop: Poems

Unveiling Costumes: The Feminine Body in Elizabeth Bishop's "Pink Dog"

Elizabeth Bishop

Pink Dog

(Rio de Janeiro)

The sun is blazing and the sky is blue.

Umbrellas clothe the beach in every hue.

Naked, you trot across the avenue.

Oh, never have I seen a dog so bare!

Naked and pink, without a single hair...

Startled, the passersby draw back and stare.

Of course they're mortally afraid of rabies.

You are not mad; you have a case of scabies

but look intelligent. Where are your babies?

(A nursing mother, by those hanging teats.)

In what slum have you hidden them, poor bitch,

while you go begging, living by your wits?

Didn't you know? It's been in all the papers,

to solve this problem, how they deal with beggars?

They take and throw them in the tidal rivers.

Yes, idiots, paralytics, parasites

go bobbing in the ebbing sewage, nights

out in the suburbs, where there are no lights.

If they do this to anyone who begs,

drugged, drunk, or sober, with or without legs,

what would they do to sick, four-legged dogs?

In the cafes and on the sidewalk corners

the joke is going round that all the beggars

who can afford them now wear life preservers.

In your condition you would not be able

even to float, much less to dog-paddle.

Now look, the practical, the sensible

solution is to wear a fantasia.

Tonight you simply...

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