Anne Sexton

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

The Expatriates - Poem by Anne Sexton

My dear, it was a moment
to clutch for a moment
so that you may believe in it
and believing is the act of love, I think,
even in the telling, wherever it went.

In the false New England forest
where the misplanted Norwegian trees
refused to root, their thick synthetic
roots barging out of the dirt to work on the air,
we held hands and walked on our knees.
Actually, there was no one there.

For fourty years this experimental
woodland grew, shaft by shaft in perfect rows
where its stub branches held and its spokes fell.
It was a place of parallel trees, their lives
filed out in exile where we walked too alien to know
our sameness and how our sameness survives.

Outside of us the village cars followed
the white line we had carefully walked
two nights before toward our single beds.
We lay halfway up an ugly hill and if we fell
it was here in the woods where the woods were caught
in their dying and you held me well.

And now I must dream the forest whole
and your sweet hands, not once as frozen
as those stopped trees, nor ruled, nor pale,
nor leaving mine. Today in my house, I see
our house, its pillars a dim basement of men
holding up their foreign ground for you and me.

My dear, it was a time,
butchered from time
that we must tell of quickly
before we lose the sound of our own
mouths calling mine, mine, mine.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

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