Over stone walls and barns,
miles from the black-eyed Susans,
over circus tents and moon rockets
you are going, going.
You who have inhabited me
in the deepest and most broken place,
are going, going.
An old woman calls up to you
from her deathbed deep in sores,
asking, 'What do you keep of her?'
She is the crone in the fables.
She is the fool at the supper
and you, sir, are the traveler.
Although you are in a hurry
you stop to open a small basket
and under layers of petticoats
you show her the tiger-striped eyes
that you have lately plucked,
you show her specialty, the lips,
those two small bundles,
you show her the two hands
that grip her fiercely,
one being mine, one being yours.
Torn right off at the wrist bone
when you started in your
impossible going, gone.
Then you place the basket
in the old woman's hollow lap
and as a last act she fondles
these artifacts like a child's head
and murmurs, 'Precious. Precious.'
And you are glad you have given
them to this one for she too
is making a trip.
Anne Sexton's Other Poems
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