Sylvia: the movie

Issue OneIssuesPoetry

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By Duncan Richardson


England – February 1963


The worst winter in memory

pipes and birds were freezing

heaters gave up

snow lay crusting under foot

– it was too cold

for more.


That night

she bought stamps from a neighbour

for letters she knew she’d never post

made breakfast for the kids

sometime before dawn

left it on a tray

beside their beds

opening their window at the top

closed and taped up

their bedroom door

walked to the kitchen

turned on the gas.


This woman like a mask of Plath

was lost and tortured

but the film barely lets her poetry

poke through

before it also dies

summoning a ghost of Sylvia

the chasmed faces of mother-less children

and a body wrapped in red

hurried out

over the suburban snow.


Image by Anna Jiménez Calaf