A Poem for Friday

Wuthering Heights by Sylvia Plath (1961)

The horizons ring me like faggots,

Tilted and disparate, and always unstable.

Touched by a match, they might warm me,

And their fine lines singe

The air to orange

Before the distances they pin evaporate,

Weighting the pale sky with a soldier color.

But they only dissolve and dissolve

Like a series of promises, as I step forward.


There is no life higher than the grasstops

Or the hearts of sheep, and the wind

Pours by like destiny, bending

Everything in one direction.

I can feel it trying

To funnel my heat away.

If I pay the roots of the heather

Too close attention, they will invite me

To whiten my bones among them.


The sheep know where they are,

Browsing in their dirty wool-clouds,

Gray as the weather.

The black slots of their pupils take me in.

It is like being mailed into space,

A thin, silly message.

They stand about in grandmotherly disguise,

All wig curls and yellow teeth

And hard, marbly baas.


I come to wheel ruts, and water

Limpid as the solitudes

That flee through my fingers.

Hollow doorsteps go from grass to grass;

Lintel and sill have unhinged themselves.

Of people and the air only

Remembers a few odd syllables.

It rehearses them moaningly:

Black stone, black stone.


The sky leans on me, me, the one upright

Among all horizontals.

The grass is beating its head distractedly.

It is too delicate

For a life in such company;

Darkness terrifies it.

Now, in valleys narrow

And black as purses, the house lights

Gleam like small change.

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