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Lady Lazarus

by
I have done it again.
One year in every ten I manage it_____ A sort of walking miracle, my skin Bright as a Nazi lampshade, My right foot A paperweight, My face featureless, fine Jew linen.
Peel off the napkin O my enemy.
Do I terrify?------- The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth? The sour breath Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh The grave cave ate will be At home on me And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The Peanut-crunching crowd Shoves in to see Them unwrap me hand in foot ------ The big strip tease.
Gentleman , ladies These are my hands My knees.
I may be skin and bone, Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut As a seashell.
They had to call and call And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Dying Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.
It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical Comeback in broad day To the same place, the same face, the same brute Amused shout: 'A miracle!' That knocks me out.
There is a charge For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge For the hearing of my heart--- It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge For a word or a touch Or a bit of blood Or a piece of my hair on my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus, I am your valuable, The pure gold baby That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash--- You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there---- A cake of soap, A wedding ring, A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer Beware Beware.
Out of the ash I rise with my red hair And I eat men like air.
(1962)

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