Full Fathom Five
by Sylvia Plath
- Old man, you surface seldom.
- Then you come in with the tide's
- When seas wash cold, foam-
- Capped: white hair, white beard,
- A dragnet, rising, falling, as waves
- Crest and trough. Miles long
- Extend the radial sheaves
- Of your spread hair, in which wrin-
- kling skeins
- Knotted, caught, survives
- The old myth of orgins
- Unimaginable. You float near
- As kneeled ice-mountains
- Of the north, to be steered clear
- Of, not fathomed. All obscurity
- Starts with a danger:
- Your dangers are many. I
- Cannot look much but your form
- Some strange injury
- And seems to die: so vapors
- Ravel to clearness on the dawn sea.
- The muddy rumors
- Of your burial move me
- To half-believe: your reappearance
- Proves rumors shallow,
- For the archaic trenched lines
- Of your grained face shed time in
- Ages beat like rains
- On the unbeaten channels
- Of the ocean. Such sage humor
- Durance are whirlpools
- To make away with the ground-
- Work of the earth and the sky's
- Waist down, you may wind
- One labyrinthine tangle
- To root deep among knuckles, shin-
- Skulls. Inscrutable,
- Below shoulders not once
- Seen by any man who kept his head,
- You defy questions;
- You defy godhood.
- I walk dry on your kingdom's border
- Exiled to no good.
- Your shelled bed I remember.
- Father, this thick air is murderous.
- I would breathe water.
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