I thought I’d take it back a little bit and look at one of my favorite poets, Anne Sexton.
I first became obsessed with Anne Sexton my Junior year of high school. I did a poetry project for my AP English class, and I happened upon her poems. They are so beautiful, and they spoke to me in a way that made me both frightened and empowered.
For the first time, I felt as if I was compelled to write. Anne Sexton allowed me to pick up a pen and marry every piece of paper in front of me. Her life, though morbid, is so beautifully tarnished in the same way that we are all beautifully tarnished and marked by our experience or our circumstance.
Anne Sexton allowed for me to start looking at my life more critically and more holistically. She helped me to understand healthy ways to channel rage and confusion and love and beauty and existence.
I was (am) so full of all of these things. Casual conversation with others can often throw me into a fit of anger or sadness or extreme hostility. On the other side of that, I am so full of love sometimes I feel as if I may just burst. I don’t know if that’s bipolar or conflicting or strange.
There is one poem that still resonates with twenty-year old me. I remember the first time I read it, and I remember the severe pain that I felt in reading it. I was living it, or at least I thought it was.
For My Lover, Returning to His Wife
by: Anne Sexton
She is all there.
She was melted carefully down for you
and cast up from your childhood,
cast up from your one hundred favorite aggies.
She has always been there, my darling.
She is, in fact, exquisite.
Fireworks in the dull middle of February
and as real as a cast-iron pot.
Let’s face it, I have been momentary.
vA luxury. A bright red sloop in the harbor.
My hair rising like smoke from the car window.
Littleneck clams out of season.
She is more than that. She is your have to have,
has grown you your practical your tropical growth.
This is not an experiment. She is all harmony.
She sees to oars and oarlocks for the dinghy,
has placed wild flowers at the window at breakfast,
sat by the potter’s wheel at midday,
set forth three children under the moon,
three cherubs drawn by Michelangelo,
done this with her legs spread out
in the terrible months in the chapel.
If you glance up, the children are there
like delicate balloons resting on the ceiling.
She has also carried each one down the hall
after supper, their heads privately bent,
two legs protesting, person to person,
her face flushed with a song and their little sleep.
I give you back your heart.
I give you permission —
for the fuse inside her, throbbing
angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
and the burying of her wound —
for the burying of her small red wound alive —
for the pale flickering flare under her ribs,
for the drunken sailor who waits in her left pulse,
for the mother’s knee, for the stocking,
for the garter belt, for the call —
the curious call
when you will burrow in arms and breasts
and tug at the orange ribbon in her hair
and answer the call, the curious call.
She is so naked and singular
She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
Climb her like a monument, step after step.
She is solid.
As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.
I can’t even begin to articulate how painful and beautiful this poem is. It speaks to me in such a strong way. I love it, and I feel as if I still connect to it because it is the first poem that ever made me want to be a poet.