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Nick and the Candlestick

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I am a miner. The light burns blue.   
Waxy stalactites
Drip and thicken, tears

The earthen womb
Exudes from its dead boredom.   
Black bat airs

Wrap me, raggy shawls,   
Cold homicides.
They weld to me like plums.

Old cave of calcium   
Icicles, old echoer.
Even the newts are white,

Those holy Joes.
And the fish, the fish—
Christ! they are panes of ice,

A vice of knives,   
A piranha   
Religion, drinking

Its first communion out of my live toes.   
The candle
Gulps and recovers its small altitude,

Its yellows hearten.
O love, how did you get here?   
O embryo

Remembering, even in sleep,   
Your crossed position.   
The blood blooms clean

In you, ruby.   
The pain
You wake to is not yours.

Love, love,
I have hung our cave with roses,   
With soft rugs—

The last of Victoriana.   
Let the stars
Plummet to their dark address,

Let the mercuric   
Atoms that cripple drip   
Into the terrible well,

You are the one
Solid the spaces lean on, envious.   
You are the baby in the barn.

Sylvia Plath, “Nick and the Candlestick” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Editorial matter copyright © 1981 by Ted Hughes. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Source: Collected Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1992)
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Nick and the Candlestick

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