Cut

by Sylvia Plath

For Susan O’Neill Roe (Plath’s children’s au pair)

What a thrill–
My thumb instead of an onion,
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of a hinge

Of skin,
A flap like a hat,
Dead white.
Then that red plush.

Little pilgrim,
The Indian’s axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Carpet rolls

Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz.

A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.

Whose side are they on?
O my
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill

The thin
Papery feeling.
Saboteur,
Kamikaze man —

The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Babushka
Darkens and tarnishes and when

The balled
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence

How you jump —
Trepanned veteran,
Dirty girl,
Thumb stump.

Thank you to poet Laurie Junkins for recommending this Plath pearl. A few months ago Junkins incapacitated her own thumb by slicing it on a glass salad bowl and penned a poem on the topic, which has recently been accepted for publication.

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