Anne Sexton
Newton, Massachusetts
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45 Mercy Street

Rating: 3.7
In my dream,
drilling into the marrow
of my entire bone,
my real dream,
I'm walking up and down Beacon Hill
searching for a street sign -
namely MERCY STREET.
Not there.

I try the Back Bay.
Not there.
Not there.
And yet I know the number.
45 Mercy Street.
I know the stained-glass window
of the foyer,
the three flights of the house
with its parquet floors.
I know the furniture and
mother, grandmother, great-grandmother,
the servants.
I know the cupboard of Spode
the boat of ice, solid silver,
where the butter sits in neat squares
like strange giant's teeth
on the big mahogany table.
I know it well.
Not there.

Where did you go?
45 Mercy Street,
with great-grandmother
kneeling in her whale-bone corset
and praying gently but fiercely
to the wash basin,
at five A.M.
at noon
dozing in her wiggy rocker,
grandfather taking a nap in the pantry,
grandmother pushing the bell for the downstairs maid,
and Nana rocking Mother with an oversized flower
on her forehead to cover the curl
of when she was good and when she was...
And where she was begat
and in a generation
the third she will beget,
me,
with the stranger's seed blooming
into the flower called Horrid.

I walk in a yellow dress
and a white pocketbook stuffed with cigarettes,
enough pills, my wallet, my keys,
and being twenty-eight, or is it forty-five?
I walk. I walk.
I hold matches at street signs
for it is dark,
as dark as the leathery dead
and I have lost my green Ford,
my house in the suburbs,
two little kids
sucked up like pollen by the bee in me
and a husband
who has wiped off his eyes
in order not to see my inside out
and I am walking and looking
and this is no dream
just my oily life
where the people are alibis
and the street is unfindable for an
entire lifetime.

Pull the shades down -
I don't care!
Bolt the door, mercy,
erase the number,
rip down the street sign,
what can it matter,
what can it matter to this cheapskate
who wants to own the past
that went out on a dead ship
and left me only with paper?

Not there.

I open my pocketbook,
as women do,
and fish swim back and forth
between the dollars and the lipstick.
I pick them out,
one by one
and throw them at the street signs,
and shoot my pocketbook
into the Charles River.
Next I pull the dream off
and slam into the cement wall
of the clumsy calendar
I live in,
my life,
and its hauled up
notebooks.
COMMENTS
Christopher Truman 02 October 2020
One of the worst poems ever written, Disorganised garbage
2 9 Reply
Shaun Cronick 27 May 2020
Tragedy was an under statement for such a brilliant poetess and likewise a poor woman who tragically ended her own life.
2 0 Reply
Expiallidocious 15 May 2020
At least get the age right.
1 1 Reply
Bjpafa Meragente 29 February 2020
No mercy. It is her life and also mine and the road of many in this troubled waters.
2 0 Reply
Ankwasa Harlord 17 January 2020
Add a comment.nice piece of art
3 1 Reply
Ratnakar Mandlik 27 June 2019
Search for the past and ancestors through the medium of dream that too did not help in reaching them, thus, , giving a grievous wound and heartache has been narrated in an elaborate manner. A master piece of Anne Sexton, well worth of classic poem of the Day.
2 2 Reply
C F 27 June 2019
A poem full of hurt... palpable in all its described detail. Outstanding!
5 1 Reply
Benjamin Uy 27 June 2019
45 Mercy Street A sublimely beautiful hurting poem by a great poet Anne Sexton
3 1 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 27 June 2019
The Back Bay! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
3 1 Reply
Dr Antony Theodore 27 June 2019
I walk in a yellow dress and a white pocketbook stuffed with cigarettes, enough pills, my wallet, my keys, and being twenty-eight, or is it forty-five? i walk and walk, a very good poem. tony
5 1 Reply

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