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Sylvia Plath’s Elegy for Sylvia Plath

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If you can’t feel love in life you won’t feel it in death, nor
Will you feel the tulip’s skin, nor the soft gravel

Of childhood under cheek. You will have writhed
Across the page for a hard couplet, a firm rhyme, ass

High as any downward dog, and cutlass arms
Lashing any mother who tries to pass: Let’s be frank

About the cost of spurs, mothers like peonies
Whirling in storm drains, families sunk before

Reaching open water. The empty boudoir
Will haunt, but not how you imagine it will.

Nothing, not even death frees mothers
From the cutting board, the balloons, their

Lack of resistance, thoughts, he said, quick
As tulips staggering across the quad.

She heard, I like my women splayed
Out, red. Read swollen, domesticated,

Wanting out. The tulips were never warm
My loves, they never smelled of spring,

They never marked the path out of loneliness,
Never led me home, nor to me, nor away

From what spring, or red, or tulips
Could never be.

Source: Poetry (January 2014)

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

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Sylvia Plath’s Elegy for Sylvia Plath

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