Curbside Patties

 
 
Where wander childhood sensations abandoned at the adult door?

Where hides the hood in childhood–buried where, by whom?

Who animates ghost crumb trails lost to fingers of leafy time

casts art’s poetry, memoir or history’s smokey sincerity.
 

But the curiously cured shank of hooded time stored in dark canals,

in brain crevices seeping imagery flattened and folded fit for life,

ages salty sweet in half notions nestled inside enormous desire,

full fledged and bloated with expectation un-dampened:
 

A six-year old, hair a twiggy tangle, growing to the wind, sitting

curbside, forming perfect patties from the meaty pliant mud,

shapes the real from earth and imagination aligned just so,

when nature taught her no bounds to science, only hands.

Is Sylvia Plath a cultural appropriator?

image

Daddy

BY SYLVIA PLATH

You do not do, you do not do   

Any more, black shoe

In which I have lived like a foot   

For thirty years, poor and white,   

Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.   

You died before I had time——

Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,   

Ghastly statue with one gray toe   

Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic   

Where it pours bean green over blue   

In the waters off beautiful Nauset.   

I used to pray to recover you.

Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town   

Scraped flat by the roller

Of wars, wars, wars.

But the name of the town is common.   

My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.   

So I never could tell where you   

Put your foot, your root,

I never could talk to you.

The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.   

Ich, ich, ich, ich,

I could hardly speak.

I thought every German was you.   

And the language obscene

An engine, an engine

Chuffing me off like a Jew.

A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.   

I began to talk like a Jew.

I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna   

Are not very pure or true.

With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck   

And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack

I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,

With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.   

And your neat mustache

And your Aryan eye, bright blue.

Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——

Not God but a swastika

So black no sky could squeak through.   

Every woman adores a Fascist,   

The boot in the face, the brute   

Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,   

In the picture I have of you,

A cleft in your chin instead of your foot   

But no less a devil for that, no not   

Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.

I was ten when they buried you.   

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,   

And they stuck me together with glue.   

And then I knew what to do.

I made a model of you,

A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.   

And I said I do, I do.

So daddy, I’m finally through.

The black telephone’s off at the root,   

The voices just can’t worm through.

If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two——

The vampire who said he was you   

And drank my blood for a year,

Seven years, if you want to know.

Daddy, you can lie back now.

There’s a stake in your fat black heart   

And the villagers never liked you.

They are dancing and stamping on you.   

They always knew it was you.

Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

Sylvia Plath, “Daddy” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Editorial matter copyright © 1981 by Ted Hughes. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Irving Howe charged that “there is something monstrous, utterly disproportionate, when tangled emotions about one’s father are deliberately compared with the historical fate of the European Jews.” Susan Gubar wrote similarly that using the Holocaust as metaphor diminishes the Jewish experience,  the real of it, personalizing and fictionalizing it.

Is that a form of cultural appropriation?

Ananda

  

Pleasure: watching the mercurial orb gurgle to and fro inside the glass of an old-time thermometer, the gift of orgasm from an-in-love-with lover, the runner’s high

Delight: the last piece of the 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, the unexpected twenty dollar bill in your jeans pocket, the lightbulb moment when it all makes sense


Happiness: skipping down the path just because; lightness in your step, in the being

Joy: turning from busy-ness to spy your infant’s gaze following your every movement  

Cheerfulness: the unforced mental smile naturally unfolding at the thought of another day as another opportunity to get something right

Sensual pleasure: the house-filled aroma of garlicky tomato sauce simmering; the sweet, milky scent of an infant’s head; your mother’s finger tips lightly caressing your face 

16th MuhUrta: the last sliver of sun that paints the sky magenta

End of the drama: resolution after the struggle, war, riot, tussle, tragedy–triumph in acceptance

Enjoyment: a book to live in for a while; the first bite of deep, dark, smoky chocolate; poetry’s silent spell 

Thing wished for: Satisfactory endings to poor beginnings, if not understanding then acceptance

Beatitude: Break-through acts of kindness, a helping hand when all hope is lost, a miracle, nature’s whisper

Kind of flute:  hollow, wooden, champagne, salve to the ears and mind

Sensual joy: Late Friday afternoon nap, unclothed and entwined

One of the three attributes of Atman or brahman in the vedAnta philosophy: the oneness at the tip of the final exhale concluding meditation.

Name of the forty-eighth year of the cycle of Jupiter: the comfort of order, prediction and patterns; the recognition of the unknowable vastness of that which we are particulate matter and the burden that relieves

Pure happiness: Seeing the fruits of your efforts to help others thrive or blossom, the awe of creating another human being through unimaginable struggle

Kind of house: All shelters that provide the safety and security that you imagined as a child gleefully building blanket forts in the living room.



Note: Classifications of Ananda are in the Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit; definitions are in the mind of the Gaze.