Sylvia Plath


By the gate with star and moon Worked into the peeled orange wood The bronze snake lay in the sun Inert as a shoelace; dead But pliable still, his jaw Unhinged and his grin crooked, Tongue a rose-colored arrow. Over my hand I hung him. His little vermilion eye Ignited with a glassed flame As I turned him in the light; When I split a rock one time The garnet bits burned like that. Bust dulled his back to ocher The way sun ruins a trout. Yet his belly kept its fire Going under the chainmail, The old jewels smoldering there In each opaque belly-scale: Sunset looked at through milk glass. And I saw white maggots coil Thin as pins in the dark bruise Where innards bulged as if He were digesting a mouse. Knifelike, he was chaste enough, Pure death's-metal. The yard-man's Flung brick perfected his laugh.

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