The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Saturday, X-Men Origins, Kenwood Flowers


Tulips
By Sylvia Plath

The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage——
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free——
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle : they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.

--------

My Friday the 13th started unpleasantly, since I had to have fasting blood tests that the office called to postpone from 8 to 9:30 a.m., then kept me waiting for another 45 minutes before they even got me into a room. I was so hungry when I left that I went straight to the nearby mall to get Indian food for lunch, then I did a little shopping since I was already there. Since the mall is right near Cabin John Park, I then went there to take a walk. The temperatures reached 80+ degrees, though apparently on Sunday we'll be back to possible wintry mix -- I'm not ready for the 80s, but can't we have a week when it really feels like spring with no threat of snow? At least it's good weather for Georgetown to play baseball in the park.

We had dinner with my parents -- I ran into a friend from elementary school on the way there, who sadly was back in the neighborhood for a family funeral -- and watched the start of the Nationals game, which did not end well, nor did the Orioles. Then came home to watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which I think is no one's favorite X-Men movie including mine, though I do think it's better than its reputation (for one thing, it's more memorable and watchable than X2, and for another, it has Hugh Jackman in pretty much every scene and his naked butt in several, even if some of those scenes are kind of dumb while others are gratuitous action). Here are some of the other flowers blooming in Kenwood along with the cherry blossoms:

DSCN6140

DSCN6152

DSCN6086

DSCN6157

DSCN6132

DSCN6125

DSCN6177

DSCN6104
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