Delirium, After Plath

Delirium, After Plath

Delirium, After Plath 1920 1327 Gilberte O'Sullivan

I thank her too early,
the woman who has brought me
tea in a broken handle cup
that was once my mother’s.
It’s plain orange pekoe,
the kind that ails your stomach–
a low brand of sympathy
no one else cares to steep.
Locked in the cupboard for years,
leaves escape the weevil-burrowed
filter and settle like ringworm dust.
This worsens the headache.

Last night I found her modeling photos.
Her lips a gorgeous wound in sorrel red,
What man or beast could resist
a well pressed camisole at her breast,
freshwater pearls, a strand of spermatozoa.

There is still some ham and mustard
left from Christmas, but she has
forgotten bread, so I do not eat.
Why can’t you be civil? My father asks.

Twelfth century nuns lopped off their noses
In hopes of a peaceable virginity
Vikings blazed their convent anyway.
Agape-mouthed am I. In future
I must devise a cleverer plan
to avoid spiting my own face.

In this yard they planted starches and julies,
my father forgetting the Florida allergist
who scraped mango bark from my skin,
my pollen-filled lungs
unleashing the demon histamine.
After so many years
You’d think I would get over that.

At once I recognize the scorpion tree
that sent my infant brother,
to the emergency ward
his insides tearing and smoldering
Father, how does your garden flourish so?
How many poisons have you gathered
for your saucy table of new preserves?
Look, oh look! The jaundiced-eye
grieve bird pecks at your skins.

Dear father, I am not myself, I cannot breathe
I may die uncivilly, without my dignity
Send the pulmonologist, send me
away before I go unpacking more.

Header photograph © K Weber.

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