Now there comes the physical part – and therein lies the problem. Victimized by sex is the human race. Animals, the fortunate lower beasts, go into heat. Then they are through with the thing, while we poor lustful humans, caged by mores, chained by circumstance, writhe and agonize with the appalling and demanding fire licking always at our loins.

I remember a cool river beach and a May night full of rain held in far clouds, moonly sparks raying on the water, and the close, dank, heavy wetness of green vegetation. The water was cold to my bare feet, and the mud oozed up between my toes. He ran then, on the sand, and I ran after him, my hair long and damp, blowing free across my mouth. I could feel the inevitable magnetic polar forces in us, and the tidal blood beat loud, LOUD, roaring in my ears, slowing and rhythmic. He paused, then, I behind him, arms locked around the powerful ribs, fingers caressing him. To lie with him, to lie with him, burning forgetful in the delicious animal fire. Locked first upright, thighs ground together, shuddering, mouth to mouth, breast to breast, legs enmeshed, then lying full length, with the good heavy weight of body upon body, arching, undulating, blind, growing together, force fighting force: to kill? To drive into burning dark of oblivion? To lose identity? Not love, this, quite. But something else rather. A refined hedonism. Hedonism: because of the blind sucking mouthing fingering quest for physical gratification. Refined: because of the desire to stimulate another in return, not being quite only concerned for self alone, but mostly so. An easy end to arguments on the mouth: a warm meeting of mouths, tongues quivering, licking, tasting. An easy substitute for bad slashing with angry hating teeth and nails and voice: the curious musical tempo of hands lifting under breasts, caressing throat, shoulders, knees, thighs. And giving up to the corrosive black whirlpool of mutual necessary destruction. – Once there is the first kiss, then the cycle becomes inevitable. Training, conditioning, make a hunger burn in breasts and secrete fluid in vagina, driving blindly for destruction. What is it but destruction? Some mystic desire to beat to sensual annihilation – to snuff out one’s identity on the identity of the other – a mingling and mangling of identities? A death of one? Or both? A devouring and subordination? No, no. A polarization rather – a balance of two integrities, changing, electrically, one with the other, yet with centres of coolness, like stars. || (And D. H. Lawrence did have something after all – ). And there it is: when asked what role I will plan to fill, I say “What do you mean role? I plan not to step into a part on marrying – but to go on living as an intelligent mature human being, growing and learning as I always have. No shift, no radical change in life habits.” Never will there be a circle, signifying me and my operations, confined solely to home, other womenfolk, and community service, enclosed in the larger worldly circle of my mate, who brings home from his periphery of contact with the world the tales only of vicarious experience to me, like so

Sylvia Plath
Journal entry May 15 – 1952

– Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to. I’ve just got to put down what happened to me this afternoon. I can’t tell mother; not yet, anyway. She was in my room when I came home, fussing with clothes, and she didn’t even sense that something had happened. She just kept scolding and chattering on and on. So I couldn’t stop her and tell her. No matter how it comes out, I have to write it.

It rained all afternoon at the farm,” and I was cold and wet, my hair under a silk print kerchief, my red ski jacket over my sweatshirt. I had worked hard on beans all afternoon and picked over three bushels. Since it was five o’clock, people were leaving, and I was waiting beside the cars for my ride home. Kathy had just come up, and as she got on her bike she called, “Here comes Ilo.”

I looked, and sure enough, there he was, coming up the road in his old khaki shirt with his familiar white handkerchief tied around his head. I was on conversational terms with him since that day we worked together in the strawberry field. He had given me a pen and ink sketch of the farm, drawn with detail and assurance. Now he was working on a sketch of one of the boys.

So I called, “Have you finished John’s picture?”

“Oh, ya, ya,” he smiled. “Come and see. Your last chance.” He had promised to show it to me when he was done, so I ran out and got in step with him on his way to the barn. That’s where he lives.

On the way, we passed Mary Coffee. I felt her looking at me rather strangely. Somehow I couldn’t meet her eyes.

“Hullo, Mary,” Ilo said.

“Hello, Ilo,” Mary said in an oddly colourless voice.

We walked by Ginny, Sally, and a crowd of kids keeping dry in the tractor shed. A roar went up as we passed. A singsong, “Oh, Sylvia.” My cheeks burned.

“Why do they have to tease me?” I asked. Ilo just laughed. He was walking very fast.

“We’re going home in a little while,” Milton yelled from the washroom.

I nodded and kept walking, looking at the ground. Then we were at the barn, a huge place, a giant high-ceilinged room smelling of horses and damp hay. It was dim inside; I thought I saw the figure of a person on the other side of the stalls, but I couldn’t be sure. Without saying a word, Ilo had begun to mount a narrow flight of wooden stairs.

“You live up there? All these stairs?”
He kept walking up, so I followed him, hesitating at the top.

“Come in, come in,” he said, opening a door. The picture was there, in his room. I walked over the threshold. It was a narrow place with two windows, a table full of drawing things, and a cot, covered with a dark blanket. Oranges and milk were set out on a table with a radio.

“Here,” he held out the picture. It was a fine pencil sketch of John’s head.

“Why, how do you do it? With the side of the pencil?”

It seemed of no significance then, but now I remember how Ilo had shut the door, had turned on the radio so that music came out.

He talked very fast, showing me a pencil. “See, here the lead comes out, any size.” I was very conscious of his nearness. His blue eyes were startlingly close, looking at me boldly, with flecks of laughter in them.

“I really have to go. They will be waiting. The picture was lovely.”

Smiling, he was between me and the door. A motion. His hand closed around my arm. And suddenly his mouth was on mine, hard, vehement, his tongue darting between my lips, his arms like iron around me.

“Ilo, Ilo!” I don’t know whether I screamed or whispered, struggling to break free, my hands striking wildly, futilely against his great strength. At last he let me go, and stood back. I held my hand against my mouth, warm and bruised from his kiss. He looked at me quizzically, with something like surprised amusement as he saw that I was crying, frightened. No one ever kissed me that way before, and I stood there, flooded with longing, electric, shivering.

“Why, why,” he made sympathetic, depreciating little noises. “I get you some water.”

He poured me out a glass, and I drank it. He opened the door, and I stumbled blindly downstairs, past Maybelle and Robert, the little coloured children, who called my name in the corrupted way kids have of pronouncing things. Past Mary Lou, their mother, who stood there, a silent, dark presence.

And I was outdoors. A truck was going by. Coming from behind the barn. In it was Bernie – – – the horrible, short, muscular boy from the washroom. His eyes glittered with malicious delight, and he drove fast, so I could not catch up with him. Had he been in the barn? Had he seen Ilo shut the door, seen me come out? I think he must have.

I walked up past the washroom to the cars. Bernie yelled out, “Why are you crying?” I wasn’t crying. Kenny and Freddy came by on the tractor. A group of boys, going home, looked at me with a light flickering somewhere in their eyes. “Did he kiss you?” one asked, with a knowing smile.

I felt sick. I couldn’t have spoken if someone had talked to me. My voice was stuck in my throat, thick and furry.

Mr. Tompkins came up to the pump to watch Kenny and Freddy run the old stock car. They were nice, but they knew. They all must know.

“There’s cutie pie,” Kenny said.

“Cutie pie and angel face.” Freddy said.

So I stood there, arms folded, staring at the whirring engine, smiling as if I was all right, as if nothing had happened.

Milton sat in the rumble seat with me going home. David drove, and Andy was in front. They all looked at me with that dancing light in their eyes. David said in a stiff, strained voice, “Everybody in the washroom was watching you go into the barn and making wisecracks.”

Milton asked about the picture. We talked a little about art and drawing. They were all so nice. I think they may have been relieved at my narrow escape; they may have expected me to cry. They knew, though, they knew.

So I’m home. And tomorrow I have to face the whole damn farm. Good Lord, It might have happened in a dream. Now I can almost believe it did. But tomorrow my name will be on the tip of every tongue. I wish I could be smart, or flip, but I’m too scared. If only he hadn’t kissed me. I’ll have to lie and say he didn’t. But they know. They all know. And what am I against so many…?

Sylvia Plath
Journal entry summer 1950

do little secret things

December 29, 2019

I’ve had one of my rare, rare times to myself. […] I am alone for a bit, enjoying every minute of it, feeling inclined to do little secret things I like.

Sylvia Plath
Letter to her mother, Aurelia Schober Plath, written Monday night, 28 November 1960
The Letters of Sylvia Plath Volume II: 1956–1963

It’s Boxing Day

December 26, 2019

I felt overstuffed and dull and disappointed, the way I always do the day after Christmas, as if whatever it was the pine boughs and the candles and the silver and gilt-ribboned presents and the birch-log fires and the Christmas turkey and the carols at the piano promised never came to pass.

Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar

those black lines of print

November 28, 2019

I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print the way you crawl through a fence and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree.”

Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar

longing for something

February 21, 2019

So I perversely circle the late stars, drowsier and drowsier, sleepily longing for something..nothing – talking, working, eating, wondering always who am I?

Sylvia Plath
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

blown leaves

February 5, 2019

The blown leaves make bat-shapes, Web-winged and furious.

Sylvia Plath
Dialogue Over a Ouija Board

love like a fire

September 20, 2018

He uses me – uses all of me so I am lit and glowing with love like a fire, and this is all I looked for all my life – to be able to give of my love, my spontaneous joy, unreservedly, with no holding back for fear of his misuse, betrayal.

Sylvia Plath
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath: entry dated 6th April 1958

sense of eternity

September 18, 2018

If I lived by the sea I would never be really sad. I get an immense sense of eternity and peace from the ocean. I can lose myself in staring at it hour after hour.

Sylvia Plath
July 1951 letter to Aurelia Plath

With masks down

August 19, 2018

I talk to myself and look at the dark trees, blessedly neutral. So much easier than facing people, than having to look happy, invulnerable, clever. With masks down, I walk, talking to the moon, to the neutral impersonal force that does not hear, but merely accepts my being.

Sylvia Plath
The Journals of Sylvia Plath