by Shoshauna Shy
after Ted Hughes
No blank slate,
no bucket all shine,
no beribboned basket.
You don’t get
a floor swept fresh,
a clean drawer,
linen white and pressed.
Any honeymoon or thereafter tour
brings arching necks, whispers
half-cradled, the scent of suspicion
before you appear.
What does not remind him
when you leap rock-to-rock
or your skirt hem slides?
She is the dent of regret
in his eyes, the shadow
of a hat brim, the recipe favored,
books splayed for weeks
in morning glare.
And crowded that bed
with children squandered—
plus those who survived
a sleep tonic, curettes.
You roll over, and another chest
flattens, more dark ink flows.
I imagine the catch
of your own breath, Carol,
each time you light a stove.
Shoshauna Shy is the founder of Woodrow Hall Editions, which
sponsors the Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf initiative, and the Woodrow
Hall Jumpstart Award program. Shy works for the Wisconsin
Humanities Council in Madison where, for a decade, she helped create,
coordinate, and facilitate poetry programs for the annual Wisconsin
Book Festival. She has authored four collections; the most recent one
received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin
Library Association. This is her second appearance in the Apple Valley
On “Subsequent Wife”:
This poem was born and bred from reading the collection Birthday
Letters by Ted Hughes dedicated to the children he had with Sylvia
Plath, and the news that came around the same time about their
son having taken his own life. I also came across a book that
contained Plath’s journal entries—unabridged, no less—and felt
it was a betrayal by her family to allow the public to have her
words from those very personal sources. She had already given
the public plenty of words, words she had crafted and selected
with care and precision. To me, this was a violation of her trust,
and I couldn’t bring myself to read it without cringing for her.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 9, Number 2
Copyright © 2014
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors