Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day

Life goes on.  People live, in a manner of speaking that other people might not call living at all.  And caretakers, I have a new respect for caretakers.  It is a job that can ruin you, husk you out like rotten corn until the good parts of yourself are dust and only hard crunchy bits of cob remain.  Not everyone can do it, and when you come to terms with the fact you can no longer care, you're haunted by the possibility of being a terrible person.

I refuse to descend into depression on a manufactured holiday which I would likely feel more charitable toward if I were not spending it alone, fighting off a cold, and waiting to be called at any moment into my mother's bedroom to empty her catheter bag.  I resent these impositions.  I am a terrible person.

So... Sylvia Plath on Valentine's Day.  That's all I have the energy for.  The poetry and anger of Otep got me through depression in my early twenties, kicked my ass out of apathy, into righteous fury.  But today is not a day for rage.  It's a day for tulips.


I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free——
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them   
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.   

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe   
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.   
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle : they seem to float, though they weigh me down,   
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,   
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.   
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,   
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow   
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,   
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.   
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.   
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river   
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.   
They concentrate my attention, that was happy   
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;   
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,   
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.

~Tulips (abbreviated), Sylvia Plath

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