Anne Sexton: Poems Poem Text

Anne Sexton: Poems Poem Text

'Wanting to Die':

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.

I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.

Then the almost unnameable lust returns.

Even then I have nothing against life.

I know well the grass blades you mention,

the furniture you have placed under the sun.

But suicides have a special language.

Like carpenters they want to know which tools.

They never ask why build.

Twice I have so simply declared myself,

have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,

have taken on his craft, his magic.

In this way, heavy and thoughtful,

warmer than oil or water,

I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.

I did not think of my body at needle point.

Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.

Suicides have already betrayed the body.

Still-born, they don’t always die,

but dazzled, they can’t forget a drug so sweet

that even children would look on and smile.

To thrust all that life under your tongue!—

that, all by itself, becomes a passion.

Death’s a sad bone; bruised, you’d say,

and yet she waits for me, year after year,

to so delicately undo an old wound,

to empty my breath from its bad prison.

Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,

raging at the fruit a pumped-up moon,

leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,

leaving the page of the book carelessly open,

something unsaid, the phone off the hook

and the love whatever it was, an infection.

'All My Pretty Ones'

Father, this year's jinx rides us apart

where you followed our mother to her cold slumber;

a second shock boiling its stone to your heart,

leaving me here to shuffle and disencumber

you from the residence you could not afford:

a gold key, your half of a woolen mill,

twenty suits from Dunne's, an English Ford,

the love and legal verbiage of another will,

boxes of pictures of people I do not know.

I touch their cardboard faces. They must go.

But the eyes, as thick as wood in this album,

hold me. I stop here, where a small boy

waits in a ruffled dress for someone to come…

for this soldier who holds his bugle like a toy

or for this velvet lady who cannot smile.

Is this your father's father, this Commodore

in a mailman suit? My father, time meanwhile

has made it unimportant who you are looking for.

I'll never know what these faces are all about.

I lock them into their book and throw them out.

This is the yellow scrapbook that you began

the year I was born; as crackling now and wrinkly

as tobacco leaves: clippings where Hoover outran

the Democrats, wiggling his dry finger at me

and Prohibition; news where the Hindenburg went

down and recent years where you went flush

on war. This year, solvent but sick, you meant

to marry that pretty widow in a one-month rush.

But before you had that second chance, I cried

on your fat shoulder. Three days later you died.

These are the snapshots of marriage, stopped in places.

Side by side at the rail toward Nassau now;

here, with the winner's cup at the speedboat races,

here, in tails at the Cotillion, you take a bow,

here, by our kennel of dogs with their pink eyes,

running like show-bred pigs in their chain-link pen;

here, at the horseshow where my sister wins a prize;

Now I fold you down, my drunkard, my navigator,

my first lost keeper, to love or look at later.

I hold a five-year diary that my mother kept

for three years, telling all she does not say

of your alcoholic tendency. You overslept,

she writes. My God, father, each Christmas Day

with your blood, will I drink down your glass

of wine? The diary of your hurly-burly years

goes to my shelf to wait for my age to pass.

Only in this hoarded span will love persevere.

Whether you are pretty or not, I outlive you,

bend down my strange face to yours and forgive you.

'Her Kind'

I have gone out, a possessed witch,

haunting the black air, braver at night;

dreaming evil, I have done my hitch

over plain houses, light by light;

A woman like that is not a woman quite.

I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,

filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves.

closets, silks, innumerable goods;

fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:

whining, rearranging the disaligned.

A woman like that is misunderstood.

I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,

waved my nude arms at villages going by,

learning the last bright routes, survivor

where your flames still bite my thigh

and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.

A woman like that is not ashamed to die.

I have been her kind.

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