from Ted to Sylvia
(Hughes & Plath)
What did they mean to you, the azalea flowers?
Those girls were so happy, rending the branches.
Embracing their daring bouquets, their sumptuous trousseaux,
The wet, hot-petalled blossoms. Seizing their day.
Having a good time. Your homicidal
Hooded stare met them head on.
As if they were stealing the brands
Of your own burning. I hurried you off. Bullfrogs
Took you down through lily tangle. Your fury
Had to be quenched. heavy water,
Deeper, deeper, cooling and controlling
Your plutonium secret. You breathed water.
Freed, steadied, resurfaced, your eyes
Alit afresh on color, so delicate,
Splitting the prism,
As the dragonflies on the solid lilies.
The pileated woodpecker went writhing
Among the catalpas. It clung
To undersides and swooped
Like a pterodactyl. The devilry
Of the uncoiling head, the spooky wings,
And the livid cry
Flung the garden open.
You were never
More than a step from Paradise.
You had instant access, your analyst told you,
To the core of your Inferno--
The pit of the hairy flower.
At a sunny angle
The fountain threw off its seven veils
As the air swayed it. Here was your stair--
Alchemy's seven colours.
I watched you as you climbed it all on your own
Into the mouth of the azalea.
You imagined a veil-rending defloration
And a rebirth out of the sun--mixed up together
And somehow the same. You were fearless
To meet your Father.
His Word fulfilled, there, in the nuclear core.
What happens in the heart simply happens.
I stepped back. That glare
Flinging your old selves off like underthings
Left your whole Eden radioactive.