So there I was
standing at the edge of the cliff with Angela
and we made this vow,
like a wedding vow almost
but with the land dropping away at our feet
and bitter sea-wind blowing in our faces.
It was a pledge to be faithful until death.
I’d known Angela since childhood.
She read books, even difficult ones.
She loved to listen to music.
Her taste extended to jazz.
And she was drawn to the sea.
Not so much to be splashing around in it.
But to observe from a distance,
to feel its power not its playfulness.
The vow was more her idea than mine.
In fact, I was a little uneasy
standing in such a precarious position
on a chilly Fall day.
But she had grown into such a cute teenage girl.
And I loved the touch of her fingers.
And, oh yes, her breath on the back of my neck.
But, after we had repeated our affection so solemnly,
I could detect a certain sadness in her eyes.
It was as if she was saying, “Now what.”
As if dreams end by coming true.
Or a cliff, like the one we peered down from,
offered no opportunities to go any higher.
Or the sea was so vast, so deep,
it could only be indifferent
to two fifteen-year-olds trying to act older.
It was a week later, and in a less perilous setting,
when, with a tear or two, she released me from that vow.
I would have done the same but she beat me to it.
We were not a couple bonded for all time.
But we’d been exposed to the perils of such bondage…
not only bone-shaking and blustery
but at the very edge.
A HOUSEFLY REVISITS SYLVIA PLATH
I press against
the curve of glass,
peer out at my world
of linoleum, formica
and stainless steel.
Will I never sip
on the sugar crumbs again
or trot across the good china.
as I go?
I’m in this bell-jar –
yes, that’s right,
just like Sylvia Plath,
beating my wings,
Well we know
what good that did
the oxygen in here
until there’s not enough
to support the likes of me.
Sylvia, I know how
it was for you.
you in their grip,
popped you into a container,
screwed the lid tight,
left you to choke
on your own imprisonment.
Just like you,
I’ll fall to the bottom eventually.
And yet I’m curious to see
what you have written there.