Library of Congress

Poetry and Literature

The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > Poetry of America > Full List of Readings > Diane Seuss reads Emily Dickinson > Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid
{ site_name: 'Poetry', subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress/poetry.php' }

Back to Diane Seuss reads Emily Dickinson

Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid

Some women make a pilgrimage to visit it
in the Indiana library charged to keep it safe.

I didn’t drive to it; I dreamed it, the thick braid
roped over my hands, heavier than lead.

My own hair was long for years.
Then I became obsessed with chopping it off, 

and I did, clear up to my ears. If hair is beauty
then I am no longer beautiful.

Sylvia was beautiful, wasn’t she?
And like all of us, didn’t she wield her beauty

like a weapon? And then she married,
and laid it down, and when she was betrayed

and took it up again it was a word-weapon,
a poem-sword. In the dream I fasten 

her braid to my own hair, at my nape.
I walk outside with it, through the world

of men, swinging it behind me like a tail.

— Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss, “Self-Portrait with Sylvia Plath’s Braid” from Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl.

Copyright © 2018 by Diane Seuss.

Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss

Diane Seuss (1956- ) was born in Indiana and raised in Michigan. She is the author of four poetry collections, including Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (2018); Four-Legged Girl (2015),finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (2010), winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry; and It Blows You Hollow (1998). Seuss was Writer in Residence at Kalamazoo College for many years, where she received the Florence J. Lucasse Fellowship for both teaching and scholarship.