Sylvia Plath

Old Ladies' Home

Sharded in black, like beetles, Frail as antique earthenwear One breath might shiver to bits, The old women creep out here To sun on the rocks or prop Themselves up against the wall Whose stones keep a little heat. Needles knit in a bird-beaked Counterpoint to their voices: Sons, daughters, daughters and sons, Distant and cold as photos, Grandchildren nobody knows. Age wears the best black fabric Rust-red or green as lichens. At owl-call the old ghosts flock To hustle them off the lawn. From beds boxed-in like coffins The bonneted ladies grin. And Death, that bald-head buzzard, Stalls in halls where the lamp wick Shortens with each breath drawn.

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