Sylvia Plath

Crystal Gazer

Gerd sits spindle-shaped in her dark tent, Lean face gone tawn with seasons , Skin worn down to the knucklebones At her tough trade; without time's taint The burnished ball hangs fire in her hands, a lens Fusing time's three horizons. Two enter to tap her sight, a green pair Fresh leaved out in vows: 'Come tell How we shall do together, Well or ill.' Gerd slants a look at each: most dear, Each to the other; fit fiber for stern weather. Slowly she spins the ball: 'I see two stalwart apple trees Coupled by branches intertwined And, springing all about, Staunch saplings; to this house, thriving days Will bring crop's increase, and harvest fruit Follow on kind wind.' 'No hardship then?' he asks. 'We'll take Whatever trial's to come, so say true.' His bride echoes his word. At that, Gerd whirls the ball ablaze: 'Rough storm,' she grunts, ' may wreak Some havoc on tender limb, and yet Strengthen that orchard thereby.' Their small price paid, these wedded ones Walk forth into sun-moneyed air, quickened To savor their span of flourishing. Aloof, squatting mummy-wise, Gerd scans That clairvoyant quartz which once, at her own wishing, Exacted her first simple sight for this strict second. Then, a free-gadding hoyden, Gerd had craved To govern more sight than given to a woman By wits alone: to foresee her lover's faith And their future lot, she braved Church curse to ken that crooked oath Whereby one hires a demon. A flash like doomcrack rent night's black: God's work stood anchored in that glare Focusing all time's day-suns in one So beggar Gerd might aim her look At gorgon-prospects with power to strike to stone Hearts of those who pierced time's core. What Gerd saw then engraved her mind --- Plague-pitted as the moon: each bud Shriveling to cinders at its source, Each love blazing blind to its gutted end --- And, fixed in the crystal center, grinning fierce: Earth's ever-green death's head.

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