Best of the Net 2015  

The Most Terrible Thing

For Sylvia Plath, on the 50th Anniversary of her death

Your imagination springs its jaw
on me like a rat trap, snare snapped
at the neck, tiny metal teeth
leaving a row of scars, and I
a smiling woman, seeking to loot
your treasures, sea of adjectives
in a dark, cold mud bath of declarative
muck, oh, little bloody mouths, oh,
fat gold watch. Oh, you—
bewitched us, cursed him,
and set us all ticking in a trance
of engines, churning and turning
and burning for you. I pray
to you more than I pray to God;
I am your opus, your valuable
jewel, your daughter, living still
in a world too cruel, a life
you shrugged off like a heavy
winter coat. But I carry on
for you, my throat caressing
your syllabics as I ask the Ouija
to bless me in your name, recover
your voice amongst the fiercest flames,
where the golden lotus still grows.
Your tragic romance—everyone thinks
they know; women kneel down
to kiss your boot in their face.
For years we let your voice
sing. We need you to be
the most terrible thing.

- Anne Champion (from Midway Journal)