45: Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid

January 25, 2019 · 5:00
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Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid
by Diane Seuss

Some women make a pilgrimage to visit it

in the Indiana library charged to keep it safe.
I didn’t drive to it; I dreamed it, the thick braid

roped over my hands, heavier than lead.
My own hair was long for years.

Then I became obsessed with chopping it off,
and I did, clear up to my ears. If hair is beauty,

then I am no longer beautiful.
Sylvia was beautiful, wasn’t she?

And like all of us, didn’t she wield her beauty
like a weapon? And then she married

and laid it down, and when she was betrayed
and took it up again, it was a word-weapon,

a poem-sword. In the dream I fasten
her braid to my own hair, at my nape.

I walk outside with it, through the world
of men, swinging it behind me like a tail.


“Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid”, from STILL LIFE WITH TWO DEAD PEACOCKS AND A GIRL by Diane Seuss. Copyright © 2018 by Diane Seuss. Used by permission of Graywolf Press.