Thursday

Sep. 13, 2001

For My Lover, Returning To His Wife

by Anne Sexton

THURSDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2001
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Poem: "For My Lover, Returning To His Wife," by Anne Sexton from Love Poems (Houghton Mifflin).

For My Lover, Returning To His Wife

She is all there.
She was melted carefully down for you
and cast up from your childhood,
cast up from your one hundred favorite aggies.

She has always been there, my darling.
She is, in fact, exquisite.
Fireworks in the dull middle of February
and as real as a cast-iron pot.

Let's face it, I have been momentary.
A luxury. A bright red sloop in the harbor.
My hair rising like smoke from the car window.
Littleneck clams out of season.

She is more than that. She is your have to have,
has grown you your practical your tropical growth.
This is not an experiment. She is all harmony.
She sees to oars and oarlocks for the dinghy,

has placed wild flowers at the window at breakfast,
sat by the potter's wheel at midday,
set forth three children under the moon,
three cherubs drawn by Michelangelo,

done this with her legs spread out
in the terrible months in the chapel.
If you glance up, the children are there
like delicate balloons resting on the ceiling.

She has also carried each one down the hall
after supper, their heads privately bent,
two legs protesting, person to person
her face flushed with a song and their little sleep.

I give you back your heart.
I give you permission—

for the fuse inside her, throbbing
angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
and the burying of her wound—
for the burying of her small red wound alive—

for the pale flickering flare under her ribs,
for the drunken sailor who waits in her left pulse,
for the mother's knee, for the stockings,
for the garter belt, for the call—

the curious call
when you will burrow in arms and breasts
and tug at the orange ribbon in her hair
and answer the call, the curious call.

She is so naked and singular.
She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
Climb her like a monument, step after step.
She is solid.

As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.

It was on this day in 1899 that Henry Bliss, a 68-year-old New York real estate broker, stepped out of a streetcar at Central Park West and 74th Street and became the first automobile fatality in history.

The Battle of Marathon was fought on this day in 490 B.C. between the Athenian Greeks and the Persians. Pheidippides, an Olympic champion of the time, ran the 150 rugged miles from Athens to Sparta to ask for support. The Spartans couldn't come right away, but Pheidippides made it back to Athens in time to shoulder his shield and spear for the 22-mile march to the battlefield at Marathon. When the Persians had been defeated, he threw down his shield and ran back to Athens to tell the tale. He reportedly dropped dead from exhaustion on the outskirts of the city, uttering his final words: "Rejoice, we conquer!"

It's the birthday of the novelist and playwright John Boynton Priestley, born in Bradford, England (1894), known for his novel The Good Companions (1929), and the author of 50 plays, one of which, The Inspector Calls, was recently revived to great acclaim in Britain and America.

It's the birthday of Sherwood Anderson, born in Camden, Ohio (1876). He grew up poor in the town of Clyde, Ohio, which he later depicted in his book, Winesburg, Ohio (1919). He was an advertising writer in Chicago, then the president of a roofing company in Ohio, and one day in November 1912, he walked out of his office and disappeared for a few days, during which he decided to abandon his company and his wife and children and begin his career as a writer.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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