23 years (more than three quarters of sylvia plath's life) after ted hughes published "the rag rug," i am making one of my own. i hacked up an old dress, a tee shirt joe has never worn, and a tee he conceded to me.
I remember
Those long, crimson-shadowed evenings of ours
More like the breath-held camera moments
Of reaching to touch a falcon that does not fly off.
As if I held your hand to stroke a falcon
With your hand.
did ted hughes ever handle raptors? i buried myself in my "plath and hughes" seminar at the end of college—my professor, diane middlebrook, would have written me the only letter of recommendation i ever earned—and i don't know. i feel confident that he didn't experience raptors the way i do at my wildlife hospital, but that is probably neither here nor there. i know that sylvia and ted did not have cats, and i imagine that she did not have to shut herself in her bathroom to weave (they love a strip of tee).
Later (not much later)
Your diary confided to whoever
What furies you bled into that rug.
As if you had dragged, like your own entrails,
Out through your navel.
a charity bookstore friend of mine, the dear fellow who found me my latest copy of nineteen eighty-four (a title i have been collecting for the last six months), has a new wildflower tattoo on his wrist; i complimented him and he told me it was a drawing of sylvia's. half an hour later, he asked me to help him display a ten-volume collection of shakespeare in german at the back of the store. i balanced the last five against my hips as he teetered on a ladder: "achtung, K, achtung!" "i don't know german," he said. "i am not as cultured as you are."
Played on by lightnings
You needed an earth. Maybe. Or needed
To pull something out of yourself -
Some tapeworm of the psyche. I was simply
Happy to watch your scissors being fearless
As you sliced your old wool dresses,
Your cast-offs, once so costly,
Into bandages.
a boyfriend who had a penchant for wearing my clothes gave me a copy of ariel. he inscribed it with a gregory corso quote: "standing on a street corner waiting for no one is power." the green brocade pants i wore in paris after another teenager spurned me were so much lovelier stretched across his hips than they ever were on mine.

my material is black, and the pale cotton butcher's twine i wound around the cardboard i found in my neighbors' recycling pile looks like the stitches in a kantha quilt. joe requested a shot of fluorescent color in my rug, so i'll snip a few strips out of the pink turban he wore at our friends' wedding in delhi this november. i do not think he thinks of raptors as i sway at my loom, but you would have to ask him about that.

No comments: