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  • Jessica Norman

Sylvia, Assia.

A dance in life A dance in death:

six years apart

They share one heart

And a gas oven.


Assia: his mistress

While Sylvia was alive;

Sylvia his mistress

After she had died:

A triple homicide.


Lifetime violence revisited on Sylvia’s grave,

Where he fought with the vandals

Who chiseled at his name,

Leaving only Plath intact and whole -


But he had control

Her last editor - he edited her -

The inferior poet

Burnt her words:

The greater act of vandalism.


Sylvia liked the bees

Their matriarchy

Free

Protected by stings

From the sea witches

And Assia’s feral beauty;


He fucked her

Like a butcher

In Sylvia’s bed

While his family

Avoided her eye


When she died

No headlines, instead,

The strangling of a wife,

And a girl in Paris

who set herself on fire

Made the papers.


Assia was fire

But no animal

Not a demon or crow -

Just a woman

In love with indecision

And the promise of happiness.


In love with her jailer

Who told her when to rise

And eat and sleep and clean


Who expected

her sacrifice at his altar

Who left her

A literary footnote


And after her dream went kaput,

As she slipped away in the kitchen

With Shura -

Was it Ted

Or Sylvia she dreamed of?





Headshots by Johan Persson 

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