Anne Sexton (9 November 1928 – 4 October 1974 / Newton, Massachusetts)
The Evil Eye
It comes oozing
out of flowers at night,
it comes out of the rain
if a snake looks skyward,
it comes out of chairs and tables
if you don't point at them and say their names.
It comes into your mouth while you sleep,
pressing in like a washcloth.
If you meet a cross-eyed person
you must plunge into the grass,
alongside the chilly ants,
fish through the green fingernails
and come up with the four-leaf clover
or your blood with congeal
like cold gravy.
If you run across a horseshoe,
stop, take your hands out of your pockets
and count the nails
as you count your children
or your money.
Otherwise a sand flea will crawl in your ear
and fly into your brain
and the only way you'll keep from going mad
is to be hit with a hammer every hour.
If a hunchback is in the elevator with you
don't turn away,
immediately touch his hump
for his child will be born from his back tomorrow
and if he promptly bites the baby's nails off
(so it won't become a thief)
that child will be holy
and you, simple bird that you are,
may go on flying.
When you knock on wood,
and you do,
you knock on the Cross
and Jesus gives you a fragment of His body
and breaks an egg in your toilet,
giving up one life
for one life.
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