Anne Sexton

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

Old Dwarf Heart


True. All too true. I have never been at home in
life. All my decay has taken place upon a child.
Henderson the Rain King, by Saul Bellow

When I lie down to love,
old dwarf heart shakes her head.
Like an imbecile she was bom old.,
Her eyes wobble as thirty-one thick folds
of skin open to glare at me on my flickering bed.
She knows the decay we're made of.

When hurt she is abrupt.
Now she is solid, like fat,
breathing in loops like a green hen
in the dust. But if I dream of loving, then
my dreams are of snarling strangers. She dreams that…
strange, strange, and corrupt.

Good God, the things she knows!
And worse, the sores she holds
in her hands, gathered in like a nest
from an abandoned field. At her best
she is all red muscle, humming in and out, cajoled
by time. Where I go, she goes.

Oh now I lay me down to love,
how awkwardly her arms undo,
bow patiently I untangle her wrists
like knots. Old ornament, old naked fist,
even if I put on seventy coats I could not cover you…
mother, father, I'm made of.

Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

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