Dean Kostos
Dean Kostos
        

CHANGE OF VISION OF A MAENAD AS SHE GOES UNDER THE SEA

 
This title was one of Hughes’s “subjects,” for which Plath never wrote a poem. 
“As was their custom, whenever Plath experienced writer’s block, Hughes wrote 
out lists of poem subjects, often accompanied by astrological doodles.”
—No Other Appetite: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Blood Jet of Poetry, 
edited by Stephen C. Enniss & Karen V. Kukil


I descend again. Below the swells, 
                                                   we became families, become 

familiar. Colonies, culture. 
In early years, I chanted backward 

into temples of polished coral,
                                                   silver alcoves shining.  

Like a vibrating guitar string or the waves of sound
                                                   filling a flute’s corridor,

a returning force enters me. Oscillations 
                                                   whorl into widening spheres.

                                                   The Earth 
                                                   pulls me toward its fiery heart.

                                                   An equal force calls me to surface.   
Always with a stab of dread. 

I do what I must, learning to live 
                                                   twice. 

                                                   On land, I have patter 
                                                   with agnostic feet. 

Despite apparatus, land dwellers 
                                                   cannot enter the emerald  

                                                   Sargasso, bubbles threading dark 
arpeggios. Although we chant flutes’ voices,

don’t believe the myth of sirens. Don’t believe 
                                                   mythology’s bloody froth

                                                   hatched a goddess. 
                                                   Books say she rose 

from her father’s castration.
                                                   I knew no such mutilation, nor

                                                   was sanguine mousse  
the stuff of my awakening. 

I was a handful of salt, summoned 
into icy brine. 

                                                   I passed through brink, my weight 
                                                   weightless. 

No fires burned. I wanted light, breathing
                                                   water.      


Waves are oscillations in the water's surface. For oscillations to exist and to propagate, like the vibrating of a guitar string or the standing waves in a flute, there must be a returning force that brings equilibrium. The tension in a string and the pressure of the air are such forces. Without these, neither the string nor the flute could produce tones. The standing waves in musical instruments bounce their energy back and forth inside the string or the flute's cavity. The oscillations that are passed to the air are different in that they travel in widening spheres outward. These travelling waves have a direction and speed in addition to their tone or timbre. In air their returning force is the compression of the air molecules. In surface waves, the returning force is gravity, the pull of the Earth. Hence the name 'gravity waves' for water waves. In solids, the molecules are tightly connected together, which prevents them from moving freely, but they can vibrate. Water is a liquid and its molecules are allowed to move freely although they are placed closely together. In gases, the molecules are surrounded by vast expanses of vacuum space, which allows them to move freely and at high speed. In all these media, waves are propagated by compression of the medium. However, the surface waves between two media (water and air), behave very different and solely under the influence of gravity, which is much weaker than that of elastic compression, the method by which sound propagates.

THE STONES OF THE CITY—THEIR PATIENT SUFFERANCE (REACQUISITIONED AS THEY ARE) This title was one of Hughes’s “subjects,” for which Plath never wrote a poem. “As was their custom, whenever Plath experienced writer’s block, Hughes wrote out lists of poem subjects, often accompanied by astrological doodles.” —No Other Appetite: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Blood Jet of Poetry, edited by Stephen C. Enniss & Karen V. Kukil Color of wind, of              mind. Livid lacerations                          in gray—watermarks speak us. Trains grub through              us. Drunks crash into their lives                          on our cobblestones. Although pigeons wear              our grayed shades, they disavow                          us. Scarred, sacrificed into slab, tile, block,              entablature—we vanish                          in calculus. Thick as resentment, we              buttress skyscrapers. Without                          our heft, our dark schist, those lofty stories              would at last relinquish their                          gleam. Perilous sum. MIDNIGHT IN A MOUNTAIN VILLAGE This title was one of Hughes’s “subjects,” for which Plath never wrote a poem. “As was their custom, whenever Plath experienced writer’s block, Hughes wrote out lists of poem subjects, often accompanied by astrological doodles.” —No Other Appetite: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and the Blood Jet of Poetry, edited by Stephen C. Enniss & Karen V. Kukil Stars are spikes of ice, leaking over steepled                                       geometries. Baize undulates more sensually than a tear. While stars rinse each                                       house, lungs heave: children sleep. Angry parents make love. Rivulets —ignored by cartographers—tattoo Prelapsarian stone. Their scrawl writes, unwrites histories                                       unread.                                       Inside a house, lit by breath, a man transcribes a clatter of icicles. His pen hurts the page as it scrapes its skin, flays secrets.                                       His pen writes the village                                       alive.