With Mercy for the Greedy
for my friend Ruth, who urges me to make an appointment for the Sacrament of Confesson
Concerning your letter in which you ask
me to call a priest and in which you ask
me to wear The Cross that you enclose;
your own cross,
your dog-bitten cross,
no larger than a thumb,
small and wooden, no thorns, this rose -
I pray to its shadow,
that gray place
where it lies on your letter… deep, deep.
I detest my sins and I try to believe
in The Cross. I touch its tender hips, its dark jawed face,
its solid neck, its brown sleep.
True. There is
a beautiful Jesus.
He is frozen to his bones like a chunk of beef.
How desperately he wanted to pull his arms in!
How desperately I touch his vertical and horizontal axes!
But I can't. Need is not quite belief.
All morning long
I have worn
your cross, hung with package string around my throat.
It tapped me lightly as a child's heart might,
tapping secondhand, softly waiting to be born.
Ruth, I cherish the letter you wrote.
My friend, my friend, I was born
doing reference work in sin, and born
confessing it. This is what poems are:
for the greedy,
they are the tongue's wrangle,
the world's pottage, the rat's star.
Anne Sexton's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (With Mercy for the Greedy by Anne Sexton )
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631)
RoseAnn V. Shawiak
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
William Carlos Williams
(17 September 1883 – 4 March 1963)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
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