Anne Sexton
Newton, Massachusetts
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Christmas Eve

Rating: 3.0
Oh sharp diamond, my mother!
I could not count the cost
of all your faces, your moods-
that present that I lost.
Sweet girl, my deathbed,
my jewel-fingered lady,
your portrait flickered all night
by the bulbs of the tree.

Your face as calm as the moon
over a mannered sea,
presided at the family reunion,
the twelve grandchildren
you used to wear on your wrist,
a three-months-old baby,
a fat check you never wrote,
the red-haired toddler who danced the twist,
your aging daughters, each one a wife,
each one talking to the family cook,
each one avoiding your portrait,
each one aping your life.

Later, after the party,
after the house went to bed,
I sat up drinking the Christmas brandy,
watching your picture,
letting the tree move in and out of focus.
The bulbs vibrated.
They were a halo over your forehead.
Then they were a beehive,
blue, yellow, green, red;
each with its own juice, each hot and alive
stinging your face. But you did not move.
I continued to watch, forcing myself,
waiting, inexhaustible, thirty-five.

I wanted your eyes, like the shadows
of two small birds, to change.
But they did not age.
The smile that gathered me in, all wit,
all charm, was invincible.
Hour after hour I looked at your face
but I could not pull the roots out of it.
Then I watched how the sun hit your red sweater, your withered neck,
your badly painted flesh-pink skin.
You who led me by the nose, I saw you as you were.
Then I thought of your body
as one thinks of murder-

Then I said Mary-
Mary, Mary, forgive me
and then I touched a present for the child,
the last I bred before your death;
and then I touched my breast
and then I touched the floor
and then my breast again as if,
somehow, it were one of yours.
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COMMENTS
Mahtab Bangalee 25 December 2019
I wanted your eyes, like the shadows of two small birds, to change. But they did not age. The smile that gathered me in, all wit, all charm, was invincible....//// beautiful poem penned on Christmas Eve
1 0 Reply
.....and then my breast again as if, somehow, it were one of yours. Yearning for a mother's love!
1 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 25 December 2019
A most beautiful poem from the hand of Anne Sexton, but full of sadness and melancholy. I am very much touched by reading this saddest epistle.Now I know why she committed suicide. An excellent choice being chosen as The Modern Poem Of The Day.CONGRATULATIONS to the family of the late Anne Sexton. May she R.I.P.
1 0 Reply
crips 24 December 2018
I saw the receipt 4 $5864, I did not believe that...my... mother in law truley earning money part time online.. there brothers friend had bean doing this less than 9 months and recently cleard the mortgage on their appartment and purchased a gorgeous Car.....www.GeoSalary.com
1 1 Reply
Peter Florian 21 December 2018
scary- and I'm supposed to write 20 characters, though the poem don't need it.
1 0 Reply
Bulent Karaalioglu 10 December 2018
I understand your pain as someone who loses her mother. I am looking for my mother on special occasions. All the mother poems are beautiful
1 3 Reply
Anil Kumar Panda 10 December 2018
A great poem on loss and pain. Sometimes memory of near and dear ones give much pain. Thanks for sharing.
1 3 Reply
A celebration without the much loved mother has caused in the poet a sense of loss which she expresses nicely in the poem. Thank you Anne
1 2 Reply
Navod Dilhara 10 December 2018
Heart touching feelings have been obviously implied. Extraordinary!
1 2 Reply
Kumarmani Mahakul 10 December 2018
This is a beautiful poem having touching expression with nice collocation. It is justified to be selected this poem as the poem of the day
1 3 Reply

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