Anne Sexton

(9 November 1928 – 4 October 1974 / Newton, Massachusetts)

Baby Picture


It's in the heart of the grape
where that smile lies.
It's in the good-bye-bow in the hair
where that smile lies.
It's in the clerical collar of the dress
where that smile lies.
What smile?
The smile of my seventh year,
caught here in the painted photograph.

It's peeling now, age has got it,
a kind of cancer of the background
and also in the assorted features.
It's like a rotten flag
or a vegetable from the refrigerator,
pocked with mold.
I am aging without sound,
into darkness, darkness.

Anne,
who are you?

I open the vein
and my blood rings like roller skates.
I open the mouth
and my teeth are an angry army.
I open the eyes
and they go sick like dogs
with what they have seen.
I open the hair
and it falls apart like dust balls.
I open the dress
and I see a child bent on a toilet seat.
I crouch there, sitting dumbly
pushing the enemas out like ice cream,
letting the whole brown world
turn into sweets.

Anne,
who are you?

Merely a kid keeping alive.

Submitted: Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Edited: Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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  • Rookie - 822 Points John Richter (10/6/2014 3:01:00 PM)

    Anne is such a beautiful soul...... yet tortured by some inability to fully enjoy her own self... I'm sad of that, but glad she lived to write things like this, things that we all feel at some point. I think if I had met her I would most want to have told her that I understand...... Someone coined her poetry as confessional, I suppose because it tends to explore inner thoughts, and self. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 12 Points Amy Marie (12/13/2010 5:02:00 PM)

    Very well written :) She is becoming one of my favorite poets. I wish she could still keep writing... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Leslie Audes (2/17/2010 9:12:00 PM)

    Sexton was a master at imagery. I love this poem, and would think it even better without the 'anne who are you...kid..alive.' ending. She's at her best when she hits and runs. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Rochelle Cashdan (10/27/2008 10:08:00 PM)

    Goes in too many different directions. Despite the Anne, who are you theme, the poem doesn't work for me. (Report) Reply

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