Thursday, February 11, 2010

today I think of you

The best slave
does not need to be beaten
She beats herself
Not with a leather whip
or with stick or twigs,
not with a blackjack
or a billyclub,
but with the fine whip
of her own tounge
& the subtle beating
of her mind
against her mind.
For who could hate her half so well
as she hates herself?
& who can match the finesse
of her self-abuse?
Years of training are required for this
Twenty years
of subtle self-indulgence
until the subject
thinks herself a queen
and yet a beggar-
both at the same time.
She must doubt herself
in everything but love.
She must choose Passionately
& badly.
She must feel lost as a dog
without her master.
She must refer all moral questions
to her mirror.
She must fall in love with a cossack
or a poet.
She must never go out of the house
unless veiled in paint.
She must wear tight shoes
so she always remembers her bondage.
She must never forget
she is rooted in the ground.
Though she is quick to learn
& admittedly clever
her natural doubt of herself
should make her so weak
that she dabbles brillantly
in a half dozen talents
& thus embellishes
but does not change our life.
If she is an artist
and comes close to genius,
the very fact of her gift
should cause her such pain
that she will take her own life
rather than best us
& after she dies, we will cry
& make her a saint.
~ Erica Jong

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