By Candlelight

by Sylvia Plath

This is winter, this is night, small love --- A sort of black horsehair, A rough, dumb country stuff Steeled with the sheen Of what green stars can make it to our gate. I hold you in my arm. It is very late. The dull bells tongue the hour. The mirror floats us at one candle power. This is the fluid in which we meet each other, This haloey radiance that seems to breathe And lets our shadows wither Only to blow Them huge again, violent giants on the wall. One match scratch makes you real. At first the candle will not bloom at all --- It snuffs its bud to almost nothing, to a dull blue dud. I hold my breath until you creak to life, Balled hedgehog, Small and cross. The yellow knife Grows tall. You clutch your bars. My singing makes you roar. I rock you like a boat Across the Indian carpet, the cold floor, While the brass man Kneels, back bent as best he can Hefting his white pillar with the light That keeps the sky at bay, The sack of black! It is everywhere, tight, tight! He is all yours, the little brassy Atlas --- Poor heirloom, all you have At his heels a pile of five brass cannonballs, No child, no wife. Five balls! Five bright brass balls! To juggle with, my love when the sky falls.