"Sylvia Plath on Wallace Stevens' 'Sunday Morning'" | Poetry Contest | Indy Week

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"Sylvia Plath on Wallace Stevens' 'Sunday Morning'"

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Not a peignoir, but Ted's old T-shirt,

a tear on the sleeve and a stain on the

collar. The coffee, three days old,

stagnates on the counter beside the

wrinkling oranges, the peel oozes where

the cockatoo pecked through to pulp.

If, like a vulture, it wants something

dead inside, I could provide a nutritious

meal. But it will not rescue me.

The bird chatters endlessly to the

clatter of madly pealing church bells.

There is no hope in things: what then

can lie in shadows and words of hell

from a screaming preacher? I could tell

them that hell is not a place; hell is the

condition I was born with. Hell is the

malignancy that controls my identity.

Hell does not care about lace nightgowns,

delicate coffees or succulent oranges.

Nor does a cheerful bird penetrate its

bounds. One day I will shoot that bird

and chant gleefully around its corpse

so that it will no longer mock me.

I will juggle eroding oranges in the air

and splatter decaying coffee as the bells

gong, gong, gong, far away in a place

where heaven exists only because

people are scared of hell. I'm not.

Mephisto has danced with me and soothed

me with his rage. I will inhale coffee

and gnaw at oranges while the cockatoo

dangles in silence. It will be my turn.

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