Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Poem for Wednesday, National Aquarium, Tenderness

Lady Lazarus
By Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it--

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?--

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot--
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.

It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart--
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash--
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.


It was a somewhat stressful Mardi Gras here because there was a shooting in College Park and the news got worse as the day went on -- first we learned that there were fatalities, then we learned that one student had shot his off-campus roommates (one survived, one did not) before killing himself. Then we learned that all of the students involved were in the engineering school. Daniel was busy with school stuff and had no more news than the news stations had; he didn't know any of the people involved, at least. So I don't have all the details but it seems pretty likely that if the shooter had not had a gun, his roomate would still be alive and so would he.

I did work and laundry in the morning and met my mother at the mall in the afternoon for frozen yogurt; we also ran into my favorite high school teacher, my eleventh grade English teacher, whom I haven't seen in many years, which was lovely. We had veggie gumbo for dinner and intended to watch the State of the Union, but given what was going on at UMCP I just couldn't take it, so I put on a Russell Crowe movie I'd never seen before, Tenderness. In retrospect, a film about a suicidal teenager and a juvenile murderer was probably not the best alternative, but it was well acted. Here are a few photos from the National Aquarium the day before the Super Bowl, mostly birds and reptiles:

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