Monday, June 29, 2015

Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath


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

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