Anne Sexton

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

The Errand - Poem by Anne Sexton

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I've been going right on, page by page,
since we last kissed, two long dolls in a cage,
two hunger-mongers throwing a myth in and out,
double-crossing out lives with doubt,
leaving us separate now, fogy with rage.

But then I've told my readers what I think
and scrubbed out the remainder with my shrink,
have placed my bones in a jar as if possessed,
have pasted a black wing over my left breast,
have washed the white out of the moon at my sink,

have eaten The Cross, have digested its lore,
indeed, have loved that eggless man once more,
have placed my own head in the kettle because
in the end death won't settle for my hypochondrias,
because this errand we're on goes to one store.

That shopkeeper may put up barricades,
and he may advertise cognac and razor blades,
he may let you dally at Nice or the Tuileries,
he may let the state of our bowels have ascendancy,
he may let such as we flaunt our escapades,

swallow down our portion of whisky and dex,
salvage the day with some soup or some sex,
juggle our teabags as we inch down the hall,
let the blood out of our fires with phenobarbital,
lick the headlines for Starkweathers and Specks,

let us be folk of the literary set,
let us deceive with words the critics regret,
let us dog down the streets for each invitation,
typing out our lives like a Singer sewing sublimation,
letting our delicate bottoms settle and yet

they were spanked alive by some doctor of folly,
given a horn or a dish to get by with, by golly,
exploding with blood in this errand called life,
dumb with snow and elbows, rubber man, a mother wife,
tongues to waggle out of the words, mistletoe and holly,

tables to place our stones on, decades of disguises,
wntil the shopkeeper plants his boot in our eyes,
and unties our bone and is finished with the case,
and turns to the next customer, forgetting our face
or how we knelt at the yellow bulb with sighs
like moth wings for a short while in a small place.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010



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