Assia Wevill Considers Herself *

Of Sylvia and turning on the gas

There is a blond woman regarding me.
Her regard intrusive as a cut that bleeds
more than it should. What should be inside
out. I am turned out.

Four fingers of whiskey, powdered pills.
Mattress. My daughter’s small
crowned head, my suffering
comparable only, lessened. Less. Body

taut, tongue tart. A tart. I use her household
things, it’s practical. My hands fitted
inside hers, grasped pan-handles, rubber gloves,
I felt the dubious eyes of her sad children, level with the sink

where I splash hot water on my wrist.

Nothing works, nothing sticks.

Didn’t I cross borders, pursued by soldiers?
And mine weren’t even metaphors, I was
a real Jew. But whoever
twists and twins with metaphor’s
remembered best.

That’s life, it seems, or death.

* Assia Wevill, Ted Hughes partner after the death of Sylvia Plath, committed suicide by the same method along with her young daughter in 1969.

The Sixties

You little fools. I will not give up stockings, or believe
the way to happiness is squalor. I do not take
the pulse of the universe. If I lie down
and unzip it will be a concession. I will not
be seen naturally. Baubles break, patchouli
gives me headaches, one man is enough, I
have too much to do with the interpretation
of dreams already, chemical ones would
put me under for good. I pitied them, the unshaven
waifs proffering flowers, babbling about god
but forgetting the devil, sulphurous,
grinning in the stove’s blue flame, and even more
when the stove’s unlit. He lies in wait, unzipped.

Kate Cayley has published two collections of poetry and a short story collection, and written a number of plays. She has won the Trillium Book Award and an O. Henry Prize, and her second short story collection, Householders, is forthcoming from Biblioasis in 2021. More: