Thursday, October 27, 2011

hot soup

I made a soup yesterday that would have pleased my dad.

He liked his soup served hot

and spicy hot.

This was not a complicated soup,

but hot

and spicy hot.

I took a box of staple

Mrs. Grasse's chicken flavored

and added one freshly purchased

farmers market chile

ground up in a mortar and pestle.

I took care to wash my fingers

after handling

and quickly washed the tools;

I boiled the soup box contents

in the four cups of water

with the chile particles

floating red on top,

and stirred......

Later I served it to Dee.

She struggled swallowing the

mixture, and finally begged to

change to some of her potato soup.

She did that

but the hot chicken soup stuck

to the edges of the bowl

- she failed to rinse it –

and made a hot impression on her

even so.

At my age

with dulling taste buds

I quaffed the soup hurriedly

able not just to stand it

but to really like it.

In such enactments we keep

alive the memory of

Leslie Vernon Dix

who piloted a jitney

and drank hot soup

in Cedar Falls, Iowa

and later in Germany trenches

boiled his soup in a helmet.

One dire time the soup was flavored

with a gun-shot rat.......

It's the birthday of the poet Sylvia Plath (books by this author), born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1932. She went to Smith, and while she was there she struggled with bipolar disease, she attempted suicide, but she made it through and won a Fulbright Scholarship to England. And in England she met another poet, Ted Hughes, and they got married. She published her first book of poems, Colossus (1960), and gave birth to two kids. She wrote the poems in Colossus slowly, deliberately, and constantly looked up words in her beloved thesaurus. But then her husband left her for another woman, her depression came back in force, and that winter after he left she wrote almost all the poems that would eventually become the book Ariel. She was seized with creative energy, and she wrote feverishly, sometimes completing several poems in just a few hours before her kids woke up.

In 1963, she published a novel, The Bell Jar, and two weeks later she committed suicide. She had only published one book of poetry during her life, but she had written enough poems to fill three more books, which were all published after she died, including Ariel (1965),whichwas filled with personal poems about marriage, motherhood, and depression. The poems in Ariel are usually considered Sylvia Plath's best work—poems like "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus."

Lady Lazarus

by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.

One year in every ten

I manage it--

A sort of walking miracle, my skin

Bright as a Nazi lampshade,

My right foot

A paperweight,

My face a featureless, fine

Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin

O my enemy.

Do I terrify?--

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?

The sour breath

Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh

The grave cave ate will be

At home on me

And I a smiling woman.

I am only thirty.

And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.

What a trash

To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.

The peanut-crunching crowd

Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot--

The big strip tease.

Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands

My knees.

I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.

The first time it happened I was ten.

It was an accident.

The second time I meant

To last it out and not come back at all.

I rocked shut

As a seashell.

They had to call and call

And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.


Is an art, like everything else.

I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.

I do it so it feels real.

I guess you could say I've a call.

It's easy enough to do it in a cell.

It's easy enough to do it and stay put.

It's the theatrical

Comeback in broad day

To the same place, the same face, the same brute

Amused shout:

'A miracle!'

That knocks me out.

There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge

For the hearing of my heart--

It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge

For a word or a touch

Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.

So, so, Herr Doktor.

So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,

I am your valuable,

The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.

I turn and burn.

Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash--

You poke and stir.

Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--

A cake of soap,

A wedding ring,

A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer



Out of the ash

I rise with my red hair

And I eat men like air.

23-29 October 1962