Anne Sexton

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

The Hangman


Reasonable, reasonable, reasonable…we walked through
ten different homes, they always call them homes,
to find one ward where they like the babies who
looks like you. Each time, the eyes that no one owns
watched us intently, these visitors from the street
that moves outside. They watched, but did not know
about time, there in the house where babies never grow.
My boy, though innocent and mild
your brain is obsolete.
Those six times that you almost died
the newest medicine and the family fuss
pulled you back again. Supplied
with air, against my guilty wish,
your clogged pipes cried
like Lazarus.

At first your mother said…why me! why me!
But she got over that. Now she enjoys
her dull daily care and her hectic bravery.
You do not love anyone. She is not growing a boy;
she is enlarging a stone to wear around her neck.
Some nights in our bed her mouth snores at me coldly
or when she turns, her kisses walking out of the sea,
I think of the bad stories,
the monster and the wreck.
I think of that Scandinavian tale
that tells of the king who killed nine
sons in turn. Slaughtered wholesale,
they had one life in common
as you have mine,
my son.

Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

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