In the recesses of the woman’s mind
           there is a warehouse. The warehouse
                      is covered with wisteria. The wisteria wonders

what it is doing in the mind of the woman.
           The woman wonders too.
                     The river is raw tonight. The river is a calling

aching with want. The woman walks towards it
           her arms unimpaired and coated
                     with moonlight. The wisteria wants the river.

It also wants the warehouse in the mind
           of the woman, wants to remain in the ruins
                     though water is another kind of original ruin

determined in its structure and unpredictable.
           The woman unlaces the light across her body.
                     She wades through the river while the twining
                              wisteria

bleeds from her mouth, her eyes, her wrist-veins,
           her heart valve, her heart. The garden again
                     overgrows the body—called by the water

and carried by the woman to the wanting river.
           When she bleeds the wisteria, the warehouse
                     in her mind is free and empty and the source

of all emptiness. It is free to house the night sky.
           It is free like the woman to hold nothing
                     but the boundless, empty, unimaginable dark.
 

Copyright © 2016 Brynn Saito. Used with permission of the author.

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it—

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?—

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot—
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.

It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart—
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

23-29 October 1962

From The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath, published by Harper & Row. Copyright © 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Used with permission.