Margaret Atwood

(18 November 1939 / Ottawa, Ontario)

This is a Photograph of Me


It was taken some time ago
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you can see something in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or how small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion.

but if you look long enough
eventually
you will see me.)

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • G. E. W. (4/22/2010 9:14:00 PM)

    For a contemporary response to 'This is a photograph of me', check out: http: //egobeagle.blogspot.com/2010/04/this-is-photograph-of-me.html (Report) Reply

  • Ardath Kirchner (5/14/2009 1:57:00 AM)

    I love Atwood's poetry and prose work. While her original intent in writing 'This Is a Photograph of Me' was perhaps (I haven't read her comments or any other exegesis) to express the suppression and negation of women, reading it just now reminded me that she speaks for everyone—anyone, regardless of gender or age, who has felt negation, who has felt erased by the world, can respond on a gut level to this poem. (Report) Reply

  • - Cheryl - (6/4/2004 7:46:00 PM)

    In her regular line of feminist writing, Atwood is once again declaring the low importance placed by society on females. The speaker feels suppressed, pushed beneath the surface, not really seen but always there. Never noticed yet always present is the way Atwood describes women’s role in a prominently male society. (Report) Reply

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