Anne Sexton

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

The Consecrating Mother


I stand before the sea
and it rolls and rolls in its green blood
saying, 'Do not give up one god
for I have a handful.'
The trade winds blew
in their twelve-fingered reversal
and I simply stood on the beach
while the ocean made a cross of salt
and hung up its drowned
and they cried Deo Deo.
The ocean offered them up in the vein of its might.
I wanted to share this
but I stood alone like a pink scarecrow.

The ocean steamed in and out,
the ocean gasped upon the shore
but I could not define her,
I could not name her mood, her locked-up faces.
Far off she rolled and rolled
like a woman in labor
and I thought of those who had crossed her,
in antiquity, in nautical trade, in slavery, in war.
I wondered how she had borne those bulwarks.
She should be entered skin to skin,
and put on like one's first or last cloth,
envered like kneeling your way into church,
descending into that ascension,
though she be slick as olive oil,
as she climbs each wave like an embezzler of white.
The big deep knows the law as it wears its gray hat,
though the ocean comes in its destiny,
with its one hundred lips,
and in moonlight she comes in her nudity,
flashing breasts made of milk-water,
flashing buttocks made of unkillable lust,
and at night when you enter her
you shine like a neon soprano.

I am that clumsy human
on the shore
loving you, coming, coming,
going,
and wish to put my thumb on you
like The Song of Solomon.

Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010
Edited: Thursday, December 18, 2014

Topic of this poem: mother


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