Elizabeth bishop – 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 – filling station