Sylvia Plath


Widow. The word consumes itself --- Body, a sheet of newsprint on the fire Levitating a numb minute in the updraft Over the scalding, red topography That will put her heart out like an only eye. Widow. The dead syllable, with its shadow Of an echo, exposes the panel in the wall Behind which the secret passages lies--stale air, Fusty remembrances, the coiled-spring stair That opens at the top onto nothing at all.... Widow. The bitter spider sits And sits in the center of her loveless spokes. Death is the dress she wears, her hat and collar. The moth-face of her husband, moonwhite and ill, Circles her like a prey she'd love to kill A second time, to have him near again --- A paper image to lay against her heart The way she laid his letters, till they grew warm And seemed to give her warmth, like a live skin. But it is she who is paper now, warmed by no one. Widow: that great, vacant estate! The voice of God is full of draftiness, Promising simply the hard stars, the space Of immortal blankness between stars And no bodies, singing like arrows up to heaven. Widow, the compassionate trees bend in, The trees of loneliness, the trees of mourning. They stand like shadows about the green landscape --- Or even like black holes cut out of it. A widow resembles them, a shadow-thing, Hand folding hand, and nothing in between. A bodiless soul could pass another soul In this clear air and never notice it --- One soul pass through the other, frail as smoke And utterly ignorant of the way it took. That is the fear she has--the fear His soul may beat and be beating at her dull sense Like Blue Mary's angel, dovelike against a pane Blinded to all but the grey, spiritless room It looks in on, and must go on looking in on.

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