In Sylvia Plath Country by Erica Jong

by R.C.

The skin of the sea

has nothing to tell me.

I see her diving down

into herself—

past the bell-shaped jellyfish

who toll for no one—

& meaning to come back


In London, in the damp

of a London morning,

I see her sitting,

folding & unfolding herself,

while the blood

hammers like rain

on her heart’s windows.

This is her own country—

the sea, the rain

& death half ryhming

with her father’s name.

Obscene monosyllable,

it lingers for a while

on the roof

of the mouth’s house.

I stand here

savoring the sound,

like salt


They thought your death

was your last poem :

a black book

with gold-tooled cover

& pages the color of ash.

But I thought different,

knowing how madness

doesn’t believe

in metaphor.

When you began to feel

the drift of continents

beneath your feet,

the sea’s suck,

& each

atom of the poisoned air,

you lost

the luxury of similie.


Gull calls, broken shell,

the quarried coast.

This is where America ends,

dropping off

to the depths.

Death comes

differently in California.

Marilyn stalled

in celluloid,

the frame stuck,

& the light

burning through.

Bronze to her platinum,

Ondine, Ariel,

finally no one,

What could we tell you

after you dove down into yourself

& were swallowed

by your poems?

Erica Jong in Women’s Studies, Vol. 2 No. 1 (1974)