The Terrible Fish
© 2008 - Ben Heine

By Sylvia Plath (*)

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see, I swallow immediately.
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike
I am not cruel, only truthful –
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me.
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

(The poem appeared on


(*) Sylvia Plath was an American poet from Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Her very short thirty-year life was riddled with stress and depression. Even though she was a very smart and talented young woman, at the age of twenty she tried to commit suicide. Unsuccessful at this task she continued to write, though her work suffered, and became darker and more depressing. A few years later she married and had two children and one miscarriage. Still bothered by this miscarriage and her recent divorce in February of 1963, sadly Sylvia succeeded in her second attempt at suicide, by inhalation of natural gas.

PS : This is a watercolour study (life drawing) made at the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts de Bruxelles.

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