“In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.” —from Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror“
The nightmare repeats itself:
A daughter clamped tight to each foot
Pulling her down under
The brute waters of the dark, deep lake —
She gasps — imagines she’s drowning
While her husband watching on the levy
Wrings his hand, faints in the heavy fog.
A terrible fish looms under her nose;
She smells blood dripping
From a dozen hooks dangling
From his mouth.
His eyeballs slide out easy
As the drawer of a cash register.
Each eye-socket a window
To her own soul — $ bills
With little jackpots on them
Jump up and dance like clowns
Poking out their tongues,
Flapping campaign signs
With hammers, sickles, swastikas —
She believes – ¡Sí se puede!*
Morning shivers her awake again,
Stumbling to the bathroom
Where the mirror flashes
In her face that same terrible fish
That has been catching her dreams
And throwing them back
As she chases each $,
Never quite able to grasp enough.
* Spanish: English translation: “Yes, she can!”
My expository essay, “Rethinking Postmodernism in Poetry: Letting Images Bridge Themselves,” features a discussion of the 4th and 5th stanzas of this poem.”