Anne Sexton

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

The Breast - Poem by Anne Sexton

This is the key to it.
This is the key to everything.

I am worse than the gamekeeper's children
picking for dust and bread.
Here I am drumming up perfume.

Let me go down on your carpet,
your straw mattress - whatever's at hand
because the child in me is dying, dying.

It is not that I am cattle to be eaten.
It is not that I am some sort of street.
But your hands found me like an architect.

Jugful of milk! It was yours years ago
when I lived in the valley of my bones,
bones dumb in the swamp. Little playthings.

A xylophone maybe with skin
stretched over it awkwardly.
Only later did it become something real.

Later I measured my size against movie stars.
I didn't measure up. Something between
my shoulders was there. But never enough.

Sure, there was a meadow,
but no yound men singing the truth.
Nothing to tell truth by.

Ignorant of men I lay next to my sisters
and rising out of the ashes I cried
my sex will be transfixed!

Now I am your mother, your daughter, your brand new thing - a snail, a nest.
I am alive when your fingers are.

I wear silk - the cover to uncover -
because silk is what I want you to think of.
But I dislike the cloth. It is too stern.

So tell me anything but track me like a climber
for here is the eye, here is the jewel,
here is the excitement the nipple learns.

I am unbalanced - but I am not mad with snow.
I am mad the way young girls are mad,
with an offering, an offering…

I burn the way money burns.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

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