Anne Sexton

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

The Wifebeater - Poem by Anne Sexton

There will be mud on the carpet tonight
and blood in the gravy as well.
The wifebeater is out,
the childbeater is out
eating soil and drinking bullets from a cup.
He strides back and forth
in front of my study window
chewing little red pieces of my heart.
His eyes flash like a birthday cake
and he makes bread out of rock.
Yesterday he was walking
like a man in the world.
He was upright and conservative
but somehow evasive, somehow contagious.
Yesterday he built me a country
and laid out a shadow where I could sleep
but today a coffin for the madonna and child,
today two women in baby clothes will be hamburg.
With a tongue like a razor he will kiss,
the mother, the child,
and we three will color the stars black
in memory of his mother
who kept him chained to the food tree
or turned him on and off like a water faucet
and made women through all these hazy years
the enemy with a heart of lies.
Tonight all the red dogs lie down in fear
and the wife and daughter knit into each other
until they are killed.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010



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