Treasure Island

Anne Sexton

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

Cockroach


Roach, foulest of creatures,
who attacks with yellow teeth
and an army of cousins big as shoes,
you are lumps of coal that are mechanized
and when I turn on the light you scuttle
into the corners and there is this hiss upon the land.
Yet I know you are only the common angel
turned into, by way of enchantment, the ugliest.
Your uncle was made into an apple.
Your aunt was made into a Siamese cat,
all the rest were made into butterflies
but because you lied to God outrightly-
told him that all things on earth were in order-
He turned his wrath upon you and said,
I will make you the most loathsome,
I will make you into God's lie,
and never will a little girl fondle you
or hold your dark wings cupped in her palm.

But that was not true. Once in New Orleans
with a group of students a roach fled across
the floor and I shrieked and she picked it up
in her hands and held it from my fear for one hour.
And held it like a diamond ring that should not escape.
These days even the devil is getting overturned
and held up to the light like a glass of water.

Submitted: Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Edited: Thursday, November 10, 2011

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