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Last Updated: April 9, 2022

Sylvia Plath

By Julie Lapping Rivera

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath
9" x 12"
Keene Flat File
print only

“Sylvia" by Rebecca Hart Olander There are others in the series of photographs the artist could have chosen. The one where her smile is a cracked-open geode. Radiant. Or the one beside him on the couch, her crown of thorns necklace partially visible there too, Hughes looking like a tired old man. Here, her armored jewelry is prominent, showing she won’t shy from hard edges. She’s interior, but she’s not looking at nothing. She’s just not looking at you, or me. She’s training her mind’s eye to make miracles. She is witch-magician, yet only thirty when she dies. Still 1959 here, neither child born yet. Curl of girlish bangs, crosshatch cheeks, cardigan, and briar patch dress on which the nettle-like necklace makes it seem she’s fastened a tidy explosion just below her clavicle. Dangerous adornment, she’s a woman avoiding a gaze. What can’t be seen is sea, rain, the slick rocks of the North Shore, the insistence of blue skies and bulbs, the exhaustion of spring, the incessancy of clouds. Her brilliance is rooted there, in the formative spaces, before nappies and milk mind. But not before poetry. That was manifest in the salt-cured hometown, the fierce mind admiring other gods, the heights to which they understood expanse and wrote that way to match, though she outmatched them all. Hairshirt necklace, hairball amulet. Destined for domestic and divine.

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