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To Anne

Now I lay me down to you
undo my knotted fists and mask
to push like children from my mouth
the violence you mark as truth

why you'd rather die than love
why the flesh is innocent
why no answers ever save and
how to build God one by self

exuberance you spun like rope
that burned your wrists and scarred your neck
yet kept you dancing barefooted on
feet that swung just off the floor

you take away my blanket
to wash the smell of sleep away
then cover me in nightmares
to keep the gods within

you prayed a thousand prayers like bees
that stung and swelled up into flowers
for the little girl that grinned
before she began to hate herself

and so you left her one last note
as if loneliness had a cure.
"Be your own woman," you wrote.
"Belong to those you love."*

these two lines, the last with wings,
to you were not in contradiction
to your work, nor to your death,
nor to your pretty pill-rimmed eyes

for when your fingers began their breathing
above your typewriter of belief,
you knew that love longed so to bleed
out from that honest, single wound.

*"Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters," page 380, from a letter written to her daughter, Linda,
just before Anne committed suicide, Friday, October 4, 1974.

To Anne © 2000 by Tobin James Mueller
"Falling Past Love" published by ArtsForge Press.
All rights reserved.