Driftwood

2 8b651a3a1acef74cad85ccf1dce804c647f4d04a_m 08ff7291df58ea46314a6497e55f5028 download 1 download 2 images 3 sylvia-plath-the-it-doesnt-matter-suit-l-mqziek sylvia-plathPoetry Journal

her friends, the bric-a-brac
in her dressing room, blouses, even a gesture
as she turns to look at you —
will outlast her presence here

The sentiment is frustrating and sad, but rather
than rail against it. She resigns herself:

you resume
the day, lead by something,
but as if nothing at all
happened.

[section]

more surprising are questions like the one
that opens “Driftwood”

Have I lied to myself
about art? Everything can’t be art, it suggests
Bird not bird/but driftwood
by the sea. This image strikingly recollects the
image in her chapbook:

Poor driftwood, poor/bird, with your
premise of wings.

[section]

I consider my own breaks in thoughts, places where I stop — gardens, trees,
an orchard still rooted, light marine blue
in the brown air, fruit on the sidewalk,
like everything that leads us to a legend
of leaving.

[section]

there’s beauty in small lines,
I see bees fly from my eyes, dark
sandalwood in the bough of the honey tree,
the cells, broodcomb, honeycomb, bee
pollen —
and bread —
brought out of the oven too late.

[section]

When I moved into the apartment,
it was still snowing outside
in winter, and
in spring.
The pipes were icing over
in Vermont, and closing
the city.
They sledded down hills —
beside white horses
in white fields
in front of smoke-filled chimneys.

[section]

Hydrangeas, for example,
represent new beginnings

[section]

Desire came and
went,
explaining nothing

[section]

She reminds me,
us that —
in the face of things
we cannot change meaning
greater than us —
and this realization
undermines
our attempts to remake one thing
into another

People need to believe they can remake their lives.

[section]

The flush-right margin has yet another effect,
subtler but equally startling, when line-initial
words, now much more apparent, cause the eye to
leap from the line-beginning to line-end, pairing first
and last words to create titles — in a way
I have never before registered, yet another
utterance that adds even further complex
meaning to the layering of poems.

[section]

I will say beauty

Thus it can be pronounced one of
four ways, depending on which word the
speaker emphasizes. The title then has four pos-
sible connotations: the willful, assertive, “I will
say beauty”; the affirmative — as if after hesitation,
I will say beauty. And the unintimidated, annuciatory,
I will say beauty. None of these four
readings cancels out the other; all renderings
of the title are shades of meaning —
however, this phrase criticizes this
range of meaning, arguing that the affirmation ends up
overwhelming the subject.

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