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The Thin People

 They are always with us, the thin people
Meager of dimension as the gray people

On a movie-screen.
They Are unreal, we say: It was only in a movie, it was only In a war making evil headlines when we Were small that they famished and Grew so lean and would not round Out their stalky limbs again though peace Plumped the bellies of the mice Under the meanest table.
It was during the long hunger-battle They found their talent to persevere In thinness, to come, later, Into our bad dreams, their menace Not guns, not abuses, But a thin silence.
Wrapped in flea-ridded donkey skins, Empty of complaint, forever Drinking vinegar from tin cups: they wore The insufferable nimbus of the lot-drawn Scapegoat.
But so thin, So weedy a race could not remain in dreams, Could not remain outlandish victims In the contracted country of the head Any more than the old woman in her mud hut could Keep from cutting fat meat Out of the side of the generous moon when it Set foot nightly in her yard Until her knife had pared The moon to a rind of little light.
Now the thin people do not obliterate Themselves as the dawn Grayness blues, reddens, and the outline Of the world comes clear and fills with color.
They persist in the sunlit room: the wallpaper Frieze of cabbage-roses and cornflowers pales Under their thin-lipped smiles, Their withering kingship.
How they prop each other up! We own no wilderness rich and deep enough For stronghold against their stiff Battalions.
See, how the tree boles flatten And lose their good browns If the thin people simply stand in the forest, Making the world go thin as a wasp's nest And grayer; not even moving their bones.

Poem by Sylvia Plath
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