Late Night Critique of Sexton and Plath
All week the mad dead have circled my sleep, creeping
off the pages I read while I rocked my child, fever-flushed
and inconsolable. I asked them why;
why it wasn't enough; the weight of a child
the smell of rain, the comfort of unread books?
The child banged his head on my shoulder -
we raged together, dumbly persistent in our pain.
I hated them for giving in, leaving their lives
a sad pile of pickings for the greedy.
And how we excuse them, write their absent notes,
wipe their faces clean, make them tidy.
In the dark room the dead assembled,
they held out their hearts
like begging bowls but I would not love them.
If I'm called to give witness it's not to that -
death as a blanket, a comforter
but how life takes over, bustles in
opens the curtains,
gives the day a shake.
Catherine Bateson, The Vigilant Heart, UQP, 1998.
I want to firstly apologise for putting up two of my own poems in three weeks - I'm slowly attempting to organise permission from other poets, but it's been busy here with the new teaching year beginning, some family issues and some internet issues. So please forgive me!
This poem comes from my second collection.
Check out other Tuesday Poems here.