Sylvia Plath Is in Paris with a Balloon on a Long String

its tricolor streamers floating and trailing.
It takes up the air like a determined child.
Plath was riding her horses of need,
and then breaking them, one by one.
The horse of loneliness, the horse of panic.
The horse of the Sacre Coeur's calcite-and-rainwater white
piped on Montmartre like a wedding cake.
The horse of the wallpaper powdered with rosebuds.
The horse of weeping in the charming vestibule.
The horse of the park’s green geometry,
of the mushroom’s black underpleats.
The horse of the lily-of-the-valley’s chaste bell.
The horse of the prickly thin storm about to be,
of the cool cottons of the hotel bed
and his beautiful body, golden, lean,
and the horse of having been so close,
and then changing his mind.
The horse of her will like a planet, irrefutable,
distantly tethered to the bestial earth, and Paris
splayed and blazing around them, as if illustrated.

Untitled [20 November]

20 November

Dear Editor:

    Please consider the enclosed poems for publication. They are from my manuscript, X = Pawn Capture, a lyrical study of the history of chess as my grandfather misrepresented it to me because he loved to tell his stories or, if you like the sound of this better, because I was too young to comprehend his indifference to me. In any case I preferred more my grandmother's understanding of a story, how her calendar was full of images of needles and flames and rushes of wheat, all standing for the way a young girl was left to fend for herself when the Romans decided to make a saint of her. We would sit in front of the stove while something proceeded though its permutations in order to be consumed by evening, and she'd speak of Saint Panacea's stepmother, Margherita di Locarno Sesia, who stabbed the little girl with a spindle because she was so pure, and I would imagine Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, and castles of stone hewn out of quarries and bright-stepping horses with braided manes.

    While the ashy length of my grandfather's cigar would measure the evening's disappointments by increments, the part of my brain built for learning and memory was focused on the strength of the hair follicle required for a healthy man to climb a high tower braced only by the golden length of her hair. If I could have transferred these thoughts to that part of the brain that processes motivation and emotion, or reading or language, I could write how Rapunzel felt as she supported the king's son's weight up the tower, only partially reeling from the stress on the outer root sheath and the dermal papilla. And all the unhappiness that follows in that story is because her mother, one enchanted evening, was hungry for wild ferns.

    Thank you for your consideration, and for reading. I have enclosed an SASE, and look forward to hearing from you.

Amy Newman