Robert Lowell's Poetry Class
By Stephanie Hemphill
Sylvia stretches her skin to fit someone else's bones— her poems not yet her own.
George Starbuck, Syl, and I, trinity of the master poet's class, drink martinis, chow potato chips
at the Ritz, until slightly blitzed. Drinks making us more real, we talk suicide until laughter
tears from our eyes. Then we bunch into my car for the Waldorf Cafeteria's
seventy-cent dinner, none of us having a better or demanding home life to return to.
I implore Sylvia to push herself, pluck the drum of her heart until it bleeds. Sometimes I think
Lowell praises Sylvia too much, or maybe he just sees something in her language that I cannot.
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Excerpt from YOUR OWN SYLVIA. Copyright © 2007 by Knopf. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.