Letter To Anne Sexton
Anne Sexton, it is 1974, the year of my mother’s birth.
I stand in our garage, the cave bloated
with mistimed leaving. Our lives never overrode but
I accuse myself. I never celebrated myself, my skin
never redeemed itself. I am only interested in myself.
Anne Sexton, I roam my mother’s blushing bathroom,
painted with butter-colored tulips and rancid roses,
adorned with lace and doilies and powdered noses;
the only place my mother and I ever encountered one another
save for in mirrors and poor poems and fiery disputes.
I search myself, Anne Sexton, or maybe I search for myself
in return for some self-accord. I imagine your blazon:
My teeth, like the tulips, plaqued and always chatterless.
My gums, the unclean mouth, the door agape for anyone.
My nose, upended, like my mother’s. I hate my nose.
My neck, age stitched across it like a wiry necklace,
like Russian cursive, like something that doesn’t belong.
I hated my mother. I hated her for my withdrawal from her.
When she lifts her arms, her lolling breasts, sole grapefruits
in wilting grocery totes, bleached and stretched,
fall sideways, over her wayside rib. Womb-ridden,
I recoiled, splintered her rib out. It peers from under now,
blade threatening the fraught stretch of skin, staring scornfully.
When I see her naked I wonder how much guilt I should have.
Should it fill a ruddy teacup, or the oblong bathtub she clambers from,
fleshy amid a soapy pink steam and hazy wisps
of a new fragrance, always a new fragrance,
so that I could never recognize her with my eyes closed?
Anne Sexton, could I count myself into your anaphoras?
Could I be the mother or daughter in Russia, Egypt, Wyoming?
I tug at my breasts, I bind my feet, I carefully place my fig leaves.
But I still scratch at my father’s haired face for an opinion.
I still deny my magic, beat at my bones, don’t ever bother
the broomstick in the cupboard. I carry pistols, never poison.
I write. I enjoy bloodbaths. I want to be God.
Anne Sexton, is there hope for us who have never forgiven ourselves?
Is there hope for the odysseys undone by men with their
smoking guns, women with their vials of venom, and all the
grief in between? Could I ever look at my mother again and
not feel sorry for her sorry for myself, for all that fetal hurt?
Let me be born again with skin redeemed;
Anne Sexton, will honesty matter at the end?