How to Impress Your Date & Business Associates With Proper Etiquette

Watch how the flowers glow on his grave, scorch my possessive grip. Watch how the petals fall, the foliage wilts, the grass grows like difficulties, a thin scar that still wounds, once this man was a pearl, wise beyond his years who taught me to invoke British Poet Laureates, Rilke, Goethe, Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Wilde, Woolf, Susan Sontag, Joyce Carol Oates and Carol Ann Duffy. Edward has turned me into an invalid who takes naps in the heat of a post-apartheid African Renaissance South African afternoon. He is more than an illusion. He is a man dressed in black, in snakeskin cowboy boots, staring at me with snake eyes, covering me with a shroud, touching me with angelic hands, his voice an instrument pushing buttons, accomplishing everything that his mind has set out to do with a quiet, unwavering, bewildering intelligence. Old-fashioned seduction. The path of least resistance. I too am now an empty vessel, axed, amped, and well-established in observation. Edward’s wife is the poet Sylvia. On her wedding day she was the blushing bride who stroked the cream frill at her collarbone, starved herself because she was so nervous, oil on her hands, a veil to cover her virginal face from her groom.

Sylvia wears gloves and silk stockings. Sylvia writes protest poetry. Sylvia is a defiant feminist driveway bollards fitted.

Her scent is in the air, fixed. She didn’t know yet she was in for a wild ride. A woman, a daughter and mother can’t cure everything. I knew his wife had merit. I knew she had her pans, her cooking pots, and her kitchen and that she slept like a perfumed queen in their house, in their bedroom and when daylight multiplied through the curtains she would pull them open, go downstairs, make tea, prepare breakfast. He was making love to her. He was making love to me. She was educated. She had been to Smith College and Cambridge. I knew his wife had love but I masked it with a million winters you see I just wasn’t up for it. I knew him through-and-through, inside and out. He was so pure. Like light in the sameness of a forest, or fluid in a glass or a child sucking on drops of butterscotch. Life is pure but his promises weren’t. It is easy to regard the olive branch as a symbol of peace but all I can see now is how shallow you’ve been, how precocious your Sylvia is. How much more articulate and brilliant she is than me. Alice Munro is coming through now. She is coming through with Doris Lessing. Others will think that there is something sinister about spirit guides, mediums and clairvoyants. I listen. All the time Sylvia, Sylvia, playing like a stuck record. She was no thief like I was ousted as.

Sylvia is a woman ahead of her time. The door, and that gap between us, closure happens in the light. Who would have thought the living and the dead, the earth-plane and the spiritual-plane could connect, but such contrasts though are projected sanely and with clarity of vision and thought through a guide’s orbit. It is not me Emma who walks on the water, crossing it from river-sea to the burden and the anger of another river-sea. It is not Emma who is worth her weight in gold, sensual in a quiet way, who wrote about gender giftedly, who had wonder guts, a brutal country to call her own and wrote both with a lethal and pure spirit, boldly, brilliantly who silenced the war poets, old men, the living and the dead. It is Sylvia Plath’s wonderland.

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