Two poems from Sexton and Plath. As I have said before, the images are harsh in their beauty. Each stroke of their pens or typewriter keys are laced with vivid defiance. Having read their numerous biographies I'm always captivated by the beauty extracted from their pain. Where Sexton is untamed an unstable free spirit, Plath is tightly wound, ever coiled and chafing against her self-imposed constraints.
When they turn the sun
on again I'll plant children
under it, I'll light up my soul
with a match and let it sing, I'll
take my mother and soap her up, I'll
take my bones and polish them, I'll
vacuum up my stale hair, I'll
pay all my neighbors' bad debts, I'll
write a poem called Yellow and put
my lips down to drink it up, I'll
feed myself spoonfuls of heat and
everyone will be home playing with
their wings and the planet will
shudder with all those smiles and
there will be no poison anywhere, no plague
in the sky and there will be a mother-broth
for all of the people and we will
never die, not one of us, we'll go on
POPPIES IN JULY
Little poppies, little hell flames,
Do you do no harm?
You flicker. I cannot touch you.
I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns.
And it exhausts me to watch you
Flickering like that, wrinkly and clear red, like the skin of a mouth.
A mouth just bloodied.
Little bloody skirts!
There are fumes that I cannot touch.
Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules?
If I could bleed, or sleep!--
If my mouth could marry a hurt like that!
Or your liquors seep to me, in this glass capsule,
Dulling and stilling.
But colourless. Colourless.