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81 Barbara Adams Survivors (For Sylvia Plath) Dear Sylvia, You had the right idea. Look what you missed since you left: King, Kennedys, Lennon whited out napalm and Nixon a crippled man pushed overboard in his wheelchair poisoned Tylenol and acid rain AIDS a B-movie in the White House jogging and low-impact aerobics low fat and low salt meals POSSLQ'S miniseries poet laureate, Ted Hughes! I went on a pilgrimage to London, York, and Wales. I raised my children. I studied the human condition. Anyone, I found, can Uve— It's common as rain. Two hundred days between our births, twenty-five years between our deaths—so far. It took me all this time to catch up, to learn the tricks to spend my youth— that's all there is: technique and time. I wanted to teU you that you were my touchstone— the measure of the artist as a woman. Leafing through a magazine I found your poems between classes and changing diapers, I thought someone had read my mind— sister, semblable, moi! 82 the minnesota review Now I play the tapes you made in your Boston voice and hear it quaver reciting "Daddy." It didn't work—the clever jokes, the mummified love and hate— you choked on raw poetry. Which of us was wiser? From the bottom of the weU you can only go up, or make a grave. Marc J. Sheehan The Library at Alexandria Each Tuesday morning the Lansing PubUc Library holds a used book sale. You foUow the yeUow and black fallout shelter signs to the basement, where a hand-made poster sporting a bear cub in a jogging suit welcomes you to the Book Burrow. Each Tuesday morning at 1 1 :30 1 enter and take a left at the third row of steel shelves to see which poets have this week been discarded. Lately a run on verse in Spanish: Borges, Mistral, Parra. Borges might say, in his lovely, pseudo-Platonic logic, that this Ubrary is only a part of that Ubrary composed of all the libraries that have ever existed—even the fabulous Alexandrian Library, destroyed, finally, after the fires and sieges of other centuries, by Christian foUowers of Emperor Theodosius ini 391 A.D.—much as he argued that all men are one man. That's what I wanted to suggest when I once tried writing a poem about buying used books, and how I often can't teU if their marginaUa is mine or another's, what we might have been thinking when we underUned "The man, formed by the lonely Ufe of the wild...," so that we're indeed led into that Borgesian labyrinth where some incarnation of yourself lays your hand to the pages of a book being eaten from inside by its own acids. Neruda, toward the end of his Ufe, dismissed many of the political differences between himself and Borges. Though Neruda, unlike Borges, could not have remained silent among the ghosts of those who disappeared, among the official stories which explained them. Can either response—action or silence—ever end those acts to which the burning of books is so often prelude, is Uke those caged birds miners carry down into coal shafts? Downtown Lansing hasn't yet managed to kiU off all the birds, though it's mainly pigeons ...


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