1. My 11th grade English teacher wore kimonos; a hip, young white woman who wore kimonos and assigned poems by some dead woman named Sylvia Plath. I remember reading “Mushrooms”. “We shall by morning / inherit the earth.” I went to the library that day and checked out a copy of The Bell Jar.
2. I don’t remember who I was that year. I couldn’t tell you if I was happy all the time or depressed; what music I was listening to; what R-rated movies I begged my mom to let me see. I remember sitting at my desk and mouthing the lines of “Mirror” as I read them in our textbook. “I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. / Whatever I see I swallow immediately.”
3. Before Sylvia, I didn’t know that the open mouths of ovens were fatal. I couldn’t understand why she killed herself. I read The Bell Jar for answers and found none. The woman in the book was Sylvia and wasn’t Sylvia at the same time.
4. My favorite part of The Bell Jar was when the young woman goes home and takes a bath. She sinks into the hot water and stays there until she feels better. I had taken baths like that before. I loved how my heartbeat sounded under water; how the rush of blood filled my ears; how water felt as it pressed against my closed eyelids. I’m not coming up for air until the air changes.
5. Sylvia Plath was my imaginary friend that year. After taking a bath, I would stand in front of the mirror and think about what Sylvia would say. “Whatever I see I swallow immediately.”