Ghosts

Maybe it's because I've moved so much, or maybe everyone does this, but I tend to get very sentimental about the history of the places I've lived in. What I don't know is why it took so long for me to figure out that I live smack in between the homes of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.

Really, I should just return my B.A. in English and call it a day.

More specifically, I live and work and play near the house where a teenage Sylvia Plath attempted suicide (under the front porch) and the house where a defeated Anne Sexton put on her mother's fur, locked herself up in the garage and started the car. Pretty morbid, I know, but it's the truth. Of course, what's more interesting is what they did while alive. A lot of it was done around me.

The homes are still there. The bookstore that they both frequented is still there, but it's an antique store now. The Howard Johnson's is a fancy restaurant. But they still stand, and I've been inside of them countless times. I'm amazed that I swim at the same "beach" they swam at, I look at the same houses as I run my errands that they looked out as they lived their lives.

Yet, we're so different. Our lives are so different. They were unhappy, and for the most part, I am not. But I now feel a strange solidarity to them. (This snowy winter may have something to do with it.) Now that I live in one of those plain houses in Her Kind, I finally get it.

HER KIND
I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.


--Anne Sexton