Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I learned from Martha O'Connor that today is Blogging for Diabetes Day, organized to raise awareness about the disease. Diabetes has affected many people on my mother's side of the family (including my mom, who was recently diagnosed, herself. Happily, she is able to control her blood sugar levels through diet and exercise.) Seven years ago, I wrote a poem about my own fear of contracting the disease; I'll share it here in honor of today's widespread diabetes blogging. The poem originally appeared in Reflections on a Life With Diabetes. All of the italicized words are Sylvia Plath's.

Cut, With Sugar
after Sylvia Plath

What a thrill--
My thumb instead of an onion,

Except I wasn't slicing onions--
There wasn't a knife at all,

But sugar, I actually cut myself
With sugar, the crystals
We had grown in a jar,
Attempting to make rock

Candy. I suppose we hadn't
Dissolved the sucrose enough,
So instead of clinging
To the seed crystals

On the wooden stick,
The sugar stuck itself
Everywhere, turning the whole
Jar into a sweet, jagged, geode.

When I tried to pull some
Out for the kids
With a spoon, a shard
Broke off and wedged itself

Into my thumb.
I was surprised
By how much sugar
Could hurt,

How much it still hurts.
This tiny red line,
This supposed sweetness,
Betrays a great aching

Maw. Oh my
Homunculus, I am ill,

Writes Plath, but I hope
I am not. Please

Let this not be an omen.
Sugar in the blood

Has plagued my mother's family
For generations--my grandfather's legs

Cut off, my cousin's
Seven-month fetus dead,
My aunt Sylvia the most recent
Diagnosee. Her last name is Thall--

Almost an anagram for Plath,
Come to think of it, if you
replace an L with a P. I doubt Plath
Was a former show girl, though,

Doubt she could do the splits well
Into her fifties, before the adult
Onset diabetes kicked in.
Of course, Plath didn't even make it

To that age. I will be thirty
This year. Thirty, Plath's last year,
And I am just starting
To feel like an adult--The thin

Papery feeling.

I am, I suppose, an onset adult,
And I can feel
The balled

Pulp of my heart
Confront its small
Mill of silence.

Oh my god, please.

I don't want
to be
this sweet.

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