Today, February 11, marks the death-date of the brilliant poet, Sylvia Plath. A tribute piece, from my collection Arclight.
To be a mother, and to double as a dark sorceress, a cleaver of dried bones, could not have been easy. Especially in the 1950s. They burned witches then, as well as reds and blacks and faggots, and other things that didn’t fit the paradigmatic slant. It was a time of burning, though televisions were new, and lawns were green and sprinklered, and men chewed cud while shaving their second faces. Also, they burned witches way back when, and now too, it seems witch-hunts belong to some fraternal order of treason, some moose club with crooked antlers, who knows.
You wrote poems. No, you fevered them. Red-hot blues, peppered shards of black. You held bits of the moon hostage, or she you. You mooned for the world, a she-wolf’s strip-tease, straight to the bone, and also, also there was your death’s head vaudeville act, juggling scythes, gargling ram’s blood and spitting it back out as flames that burned skyward, charring the fluffed bellies of clouds.
Alchemy, vaudeville, burlesque, spells brightening hollowed veins and inflaming corpuscles, spells animating petrified, rotting limbs, Lady Lazarus with a sideways grin, you did it all, Miss Plath, and still had time to make dinner. Still took care of the kids. Doing all these things while crossing the River Styx on a paper boat must not have been easy. But the poems, papered heartbeats, glistening with sap and resin, as if torn directly from dream-womb, and left behind for us to ponder, digest, fill our bathtubs with and swim in.
Your silver, vagabond, winter-kissed drops, pressed between the margins of an unyielding sea, will not be forgotten, for the moon holds the tides accountable for all its parceled beauty.