Anne Sexton

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

Christmas Eve


Oh sharp diamond, my mother!
I could not count the cost
of all your faces, your moods-
that present that I lost.
Sweet girl, my deathbed,
my jewel-fingered lady,
your portrait flickered all night
by the bulbs of the tree.

Your face as calm as the moon
over a mannered sea,
presided at the family reunion,
the twelve grandchildren
you used to wear on your wrist,
a three-months-old baby,
a fat check you never wrote,
the red-haired toddler who danced the twist,
your aging daughters, each one a wife,
each one talking to the family cook,
each one avoiding your portrait,
each one aping your life.

Later, after the party,
after the house went to bed,
I sat up drinking the Christmas brandy,
watching your picture,
letting the tree move in and out of focus.
The bulbs vibrated.
They were a halo over your forehead.
Then they were a beehive,
blue, yellow, green, red;
each with its own juice, each hot and alive
stinging your face. But you did not move.
I continued to watch, forcing myself,
waiting, inexhaustible, thirty-five.

I wanted your eyes, like the shadows
of two small birds, to change.
But they did not age.
The smile that gathered me in, all wit,
all charm, was invincible.
Hour after hour I looked at your face
but I could not pull the roots out of it.
Then I watched how the sun hit your red sweater, your withered neck,
your badly painted flesh-pink skin.
You who led me by the nose, I saw you as you were.
Then I thought of your body
as one thinks of murder-

Then I said Mary-
Mary, Mary, forgive me
and then I touched a present for the child,
the last I bred before your death;
and then I touched my breast
and then I touched the floor
and then my breast again as if,
somehow, it were one of yours.

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

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Christmas Eve by Anne Sexton )

Enter the verification code :

Read all 2 comments »

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. Not a big deal, Pradip Chattopadhyay
  2. Affinity with truth for all times, gajanan mishra
  3. Affinity with truth, gajanan mishra
  4. To the dodo, Hrishikesh Bharadwaj
  5. what are you for me, Lalit Kaira
  6. The elephant in the refrigerator, Diana Rosser
  7. Hilton at Milton,, lee fones
  8. In a time without time!, Adriana Istrefi
  9. In Praise of Nobility (Twenty-Five), Rubaba Mmahajia Rahma Sabtiu
  10. In Praise of Nobility (Twenty-Four), Rubaba Mmahajia Rahma Sabtiu

Poem of the Day

poet Percy Bysshe Shelley

We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!--yet soon
...... Read complete »

 

Modern Poem

poet Jessie Mackay

 
[Hata Bildir]