The Invalid

You could have been a sea-god!

Neptune perhaps, with your forked trident

You’d rather drown than share your murderous air.


Thor’s thundering rage, your limbs clod as you deteriorate



Sea captain with a cockle-shell heart

Clamped shut as I pick off

Sticky pearls.


I am a sea-girl

Wreathed in seaweed hair

And Neptune’s necklace

In your salt-swirl tempest.


You steer our vessel riding seaward on the waves

Until the clouds draw shut,

Your wavering soul

Swells with blackness.


The virgin moon laughs

As I hand-full the water

To scour you clean of the green pallid sheen

Your mind, vague and nebulous

Swims in its clouded depths.


Inky substance awakes.


Your pestilence

Shudders black.


I am stripped bare as your flesh melts away

Just as sanded stones erode on a stormy day.


Your heart as icy as your sea-blue eyes

No more my father than the monsters of the deep

And beasts

Who linger in the chambers of the sea.


First place in the 2013 Mosman Youth Writes Poetry Award, Mosman Library.

This poem is part of an anthology that follows the life of Sylvia Plath, her relationship with her father and husband and her decline into suicide.

The poem is my imagined version of Sylvia’s reaction to her father’s sudden and preventable death in 1936.

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