Anne Sexton

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

The Exorcists


And I solemnly swear
on the chill of secrecy
that I know you not, this room never,
the swollen dress I wear,
nor the anonymous spoons that free me,
nor this calendar nor the pulse we pare and cover.

For all these present,
before that wandering ghost,
that yellow moth of my summer bed,
I say: this small event
is not. So I prepare, am dosed
in ether and will not cry what stays unsaid.

I was brown with August,
the clapping waves at my thighs
and a storm riding into the cove. We swam
while the others beached and burst
for their boarded huts, their hale cries
shouting back to us and the hollow slam
of the dory against the float.
Black arms of thunder strapped
upon us, squalled out, we breathed in rain
and stroked past the boat.
We thrashed for shore as if we were trapped
in green and that suddenly inadequate stain

of lightning belling around
our skin. Bodies in air
we raced for the empty lobsterman-shack.
It was yellow inside, the sound
of the underwing of the sun. I swear,
I most solemnly swear, on all the bric-a-brac

of summer loves, I know
you not.

Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

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