Fever 103

by Sylvia Plath

Pure? What does it mean? The tongues of hell Are dull, dull as the triple Tongues of dull, fat Cerebus Who wheezes at the gate. Incapable Of licking clean The aguey tendon, the sin, the sin. The tinder cries. The indelible smell Of a snuffed candle! Love, love, the low smokes roll From me like Isadora's scarves, I'm in a fright One scarf will catch and anchor in the wheel. Such yellow sullen smokes Make their own element. They will not rise, But trundle round the globe Choking the aged and the meek, The weak Hothouse baby in its crib, The ghastly orchid Hanging its hanging garden in the air, Devilish leopard! Radiation turned it white And killed it in an hour. Greasing the bodies of adulterers Like Hiroshima ash and eating in. The sin. The sin. Darling, all night I have been flickering, off, on, off, on. The sheets grow heavy as a lecher's kiss. Three days. Three nights. Lemon water, chicken Water, water make me retch. I am too pure for you or anyone. Your body Hurts me as the world hurts God. I am a lantern --- My head a moon Of Japanese paper, my gold beaten skin Infinitely delicate and infinitely expensive. Does not my heat astound you. And my light. All by myself I am a huge camellia Glowing and coming and going, flush on flush. I think I am going up, I think I may rise --- The beads of hot metal fly, and I, love, I Am a pure acetylene Virgin Attended by roses, By kisses, by cherubim, By whatever these pink things mean. Not you, nor him. Not him, nor him (My selves dissolving, old whore petticoats) --- To Paradise.