Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid
Some women make a pilgrimage to visit it
in the Indiana library charged to keep it safe.
I didn’t drive to it; I dreamed it, the thick braid
roped over my hands, heavier than lead.
My own hair was long for years.
Then I became obsessed with chopping it off,
and I did, clear up to my ears. If hair is beauty
then I am no longer beautiful.
Sylvia was beautiful, wasn’t she?
And like all of us, didn’t she wield her beauty
like a weapon? And then she married,
and laid it down, and when she was betrayed
and took it up again it was a word-weapon,
a poem-sword. In the dream I fasten
her braid to my own hair, at my nape.
I walk outside with it, through the world
of men, swinging it behind me like a tail.
Copyright © 2015 by Diane Seuss. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 25, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“This is one of a series of self-portraiture poems that are part of a larger manuscript of poems about painting. I am gullible to the fetishizing of human relics—hair, teeth, bones—and who has been more fetishized than Plath? I like to believe our poems’ edges are honed when we rescind physical beauty and its dubious benefits.”
Date Published: 2015-05-25
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/self-portrait-sylvia-plaths-braid