The Bad Time

By: Jaimie Bartlett

The most known theory about evolution is the Darwinian philosophy of survival of the fittest. What most do not know is that they true meaning has nothing to do with physical fitness. In today’s world the “fittest” are no longer those that are most likely to survive. The more correct form of the phrase would be “survival of the adaptive”. In The Year of the Flood, all of the characters that have survived are still alive because they learned how to adapt to the new environment and new environmental stressors that have been thrust upon them; no matter how bad, gruesome or terrible. Toby adapted to life in many different ways throughout this novel. At first, she adapted to life with a sick mother, then life at school, then and life without both of her parents and even a rough predicament at work. Many others would not have, and did not survive. She was able to adapt and stay strong and therefore, she survived. For instance, her father could not adapt, or thought that he couldn’t, and because of this he killed himself. The only constant in the world is change. Our environment and our world will always be changing and the only way to survive is to learn to adapt. The following found poem demonstrates the numerous situations that Toby was thrust into and she chose to adapt instead of die.


The Bad Time

— Found poem by Jaimie Bartlett, excerpted from The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood, pp. 25, 30, 32, 33, 37, 38, 39, 43, 3, 37, 38, 39, 43, 46, 47.


Her father lost his job, the new one paid less.

Her mother became weak and they all were stressed

Her mother was very ill

She went south even with the pills

The period that followed was a bad time


Her mother passed,

So her father killed himself with a blast.

She hid the evidence and managed to disappear,

She had no money but “they” might still appear.

The period that followed was a bad time


She’d had long hair, it fetched a decent sum

Her eggs sold too and then there were none

She had to make a choice, to live or die

There are quicker ways, so she choose to work but for a bad guy

The period that followed was a bad time


He said, I’m promoting you, say thank you

try to not think about the earlier life, focus on the new

She longed to be back in the past,

She wish she left before he demanded her services at last

The period that followed was a bad time


Then, a strange procession along the street

They were chanting, trying to save her was their feat

They succeeded, “welcome to our garden”

Enveloped in children, fuzzy, soft, intimate, like that of Eden

The period that followed wasn’t such a bad time


She felt she should pay by helping

Because they saved her to keep her from hurting

The gardeners were convinced

The wicked and cruel would cease to exist

The period that followed was a bad time


Toby climbs up to watch the sunrise

Birds chirp

Do they notice that quietness, the absence?

The period that followed was a bad time


Don’t think about the earlier life

She’s prepared.

The doors are locked, the windows barred.

She has learned to survive from previous scars.

The period that followed was a bad time


What happened next?

I guess we’re all still vexed.

Is it still a bad time?


Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. New York: Random House, 2009. Print.


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