If a couple gets married
and one commits suicide on February 11th,
is it anyone’s fault?
Feminists can blame all they want.
Husbands can lament and take lashes
while they rewrite poetry.
Like a blinking eye that opens then closes-
what is-is. Unless it isn’t.
Depression was a black lung hung off
a rat’s tail on the tree by her window or-
asbestos pilled on plumbing pipes-unwrapped
and falling like snow-long before they said, ‘I DO.’
Long before, Sylvia swallowed 48 pills, slept
beneath her house, woke to try again.
Marriage is hard, poets complex,
Poetry is hard, marriage complex.
Like pulled threads in a sweater, they unraveled.
Depression created a triangle.
Factor in children and the figure converted
to a love pentagon-where two people wanted winged
poems sailing space and three sides were left hanging.
Pentagon then add a lover? That’s a hexagon.
The shape shifted, lost all sides, became thread-a heart,
became a pneumatic noose around a head roast.
Sylvia gasped air and faltered, fell asleep.
She wrote every day in the dark before a baby
banged pots on the floor, uttered, ‘ma-ma,’
while Ted left to write, wrangle crows.
Rejection lassoes perfection.
How romantic-two poets in the same house-
unparalleled love letters, mirrored muses:
in truth, for them, it was murder-
no, it was a contest-
no, it was academia-
publish, perish, publish, Pulitzer-no
noose was wide enough to capture
the universe of words that broke them-
Instead of a valentine,
the noose became a knot.