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Anne Sexton

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

What's That


Before it came inside
I had watched it from my kitchen window,
watched it swell like a new balloon,
watched it slump and then divide,
like something I know I know -
a broken pear or two halves of the moon,
or round white plates floating nowhere
or fat hands waving in the summer air
until they fold together like a fist or a knee.
After that it came to my door. Now it lives here.
And of course: it is a soft sound, soft as a seal's ear
that was caught between a shape and a shape and then returned to me.
You know how parents call
from sweet beaches anywhere,
come in come in
,
and how you sank under water to put out
the sound, or how one of them touched in the hall
at night: the rustle and the skin
you couldn't know, but heard, the stout
slap of tides and the dog snoring. It's here
now, caught back from time in my adult year -
the image we did forget: the cranking shells on our feet
or the swing of the spoon in soup. It is real
as splinters stuck in your ear. The noise we steal
is half a bell. And outside cars whisk by on the suburban street
and are there and are true.
What else is this, this intricate shape of air?
calling me, calling you.

Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

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