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)

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