The Moss Of His Skin
'Young girls in old Arabia were often buried alive next
to their fathers, apparently as sacrifice to the goddesses
of the tribes…'
-Harold Feldman, 'Children of the Desert' Psychoanalysis
and Psychoanalytic Review, Fall 1958
It was only important
to smile and hold still,
to lie down beside him
and to rest awhile,
to be folded up together
as if we were silk,
to sink from the eyes of mother
and not to talk.
The black room took us
like a cave or a mouth
or an indoor belly.
I held my breath
and daddy was there,
his thumbs, his fat skull,
his teeth, his hair growing
like a field or a shawl.
I lay by the moss
of his skin until
it grew strange. My sisters
will never know that I fall
out of myself and pretend
that Allah will not see
how I hold my daddy
like an old stone tree.
Anne Sexton's Other Poems
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