The animals in that country By Margaret Atwood

In that country the animals   
have the faces of people:

the ceremonial
cats possessing the streets

the fox run
politely to earth, the huntsmen   
standing around him, fixed   
in their tapestry of manners

the bull, embroidered
with blood and given
an elegant death, trumpets, his name   
stamped on him, heraldic brand   

(when he rolled
on the sand, sword in his heart, the teeth   
in his blue mouth were human)

he is really a man

even the wolves, holding resonant   
conversations in their   
forests thickened with legend.

            In this country the animals   
            have the faces of   

            Their eyes
            flash once in car headlights   
            and are gone.

            Their deaths are not elegant.

            They have the faces of   
Margaret Atwood, “The animals in that country” from Selected Poems 1965-1975. Copyright © 1974, 1976 by Margaret Atwood. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976)

Poet Bio