Alright. It’s October. It’s snowing. This is madness. No matter how much I, and 98% of other New Englanders hate it, it’s happening. So, let us pause our moaning and take a moment to “embrace” the early entrance of “winter” into our lives this year with some poetry by Sylvia Plath. Yes, Sylvia Plath again. She’s my favorite and that’s really the only reason that I ever need to assault you with her work.
The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees
Seem a botanical drawing.
Memories growing, ring on ring,
A series of weddings.
Knowing neither abortions nor bitchery,
Truer than women,
They seed so effortlessly!
Tasting the winds, that are footless,
Waist-deep in history.
Full of wings, otherworldliness.
In this, they are Ledas.
O mother of leaves and sweetness
Who are these pietas?
The shadows of ringdoves chanting, but chasing nothing.
A Winter Ship
At this wharf there are no grand landings to speak of.
Red and orange barges list and blister
Shackled to the dock, outmoded, gaudy,
And apparently indestructible.
The sea pulses under a skin of oil.
A gull holds his pose on a shanty ridgepole,
Riding the tide of the wind, steady
As wood and formal, in a jacket of ashes,
The whole flat harbor anchored in
The round of his yellow eye-button.
A blimp swims up like a day-moon or tin
Cigar over his rink of fishes.
The prospect is dull as an old etching.
They are unloading three barrels of little crabs.
The pier pilings seem about to collapse
And with them that rickety edifice
Of warehouses, derricks, smokestacks and bridges
In the distance. All around us the water slips
And gossips in its loose vernacular,
Ferrying the smells of cod and tar.
Farther out, the waves will be mouthing icecakes —
A poor month for park-sleepers and lovers.
Even our shadows are blue with cold.
We wanted to see the sun come up
And are met, instead, by this iceribbed ship,
Bearded and blown, an albatross of frost,
Relic of tough weather, every winch and stay
Encased in a glassy pellicle.
The sun will diminish it soon enough:
Each wave-tip glitters like a knife.
This is the easy time, there is nothing doing.
I have whirled the midwife’s extractor,
I have my honey,
Six jars of it,
Six cat’s eyes in the wine cellar,
Wintering in a dark without window
At the heart of the house
Next to the last tenant’s rancid jam
and the bottles of empty glitters–
Sir So-and-so’s gin.
This is the room I have never been in
This is the room I could never breathe in.
The black bunched in there like a bat,
But the torch and its faint
Chinese yellow on appalling objects–
Black asininity. Decay.
It is they who own me.
Neither cruel nor indifferent,
This is the time of hanging on for the bees–the bees
So slow I hardly know them,
Filing like soldiers
To the syrup tin
To make up for the honey I’ve taken.
Tate and Lyle keeps them going,
The refined snow.
It is Tate and Lyle they live on, instead of flowers.
They take it. The cold sets in.
Now they ball in a mass,
Mind against all that white.
The smile of the snow is white.
It spreads itself out, a mile-long body of Meissen,
Into which, on warm days,
They can only carry their dead.
The bees are all women,
Maids and the long royal lady.
They have got rid of the men,
The blunt, clumsy stumblers, the boors.
Winter is for women–
The woman, still at her knitting,
At the cradle of Spanis walnut,
Her body a bulb in the cold and too dumb to think.