The Weight of Centuries Smothering Me
I needed something to read last night so I pulled the unabridged journals of Sylvia Plath off my shelf.
I'd forgotten how much I like that book. I remember the day I bought it. I drove to Borders soon after I heard about its publication. I was sixteen; I'd just dropped out of high school. I found the thick black tome in the Poetry and Letters section, paid for it with my allowance and read it in the attached cafe with a steaming mug of chai. In my memory rain pours against the plate glass windows; my mom's watercolor paintings hang on the opposite wall.
I knew Sylvia Plath only as the girl who'd written The Bell Jar, the first and only novel I'd ever read about depression. I turned to her journals often after that, immersing myself in her words whenever I needed a bit of comfort or inspiration.
This passage in particular always gives me chills:
Nothing is real except the present, and already, I feel the weight of centuries smothering me. Some girl a hundred years ago once lived as I do. And she is dead. I am the present, but I know I, too, will pass. The high moment, the burning flash, come and are gone, continuous quicksand. And I don't want to die.
But you are dead, Sylvia. You stuck your head in an oven.
I wish she'd written more about motherhood in her journals before she died. I wish she hadn't died at all. She could have taught me so much--about balancing domestic duties with higher callings, about finding worthy topics amidst the tedium of childcare. Instead she was a burning flash, now gone. Only her words remain.
26/365. Photo of gravestone courtesy of UncleBucko and used under a Creative Commons license.