Monday, July 23, 2012

Sacrament (for Anne Sexton)

Every year I resurrect
what ash I can, stirring my bits of bone,
and yearning, into yours.

Wine of words to slur my outstretched tongue
in hope of resuscitation. But for whom?
Labials echo, toll. I remain dumb.

--July 23, 2012




Spent the past weekend with Anne Sexton, reading the new "Therapy Tapes of" book, then the Middlebrook bio for the 5th or so time. Sexton's now-crumbling Complete Poems (that I've had since 1986), and paper and pen, also surrounding me. Didn't get out of bed, barely ate or drank, for 2 days.

She always weighs heavily on me. Very beautiful (both appearance and words) and very, very sad. I have to reacquaint myself with her soul every now and then in order to get back in touch with a pure part of myself. To remind me of what suffering is for. (Both she and Plath were truly otherworldly in their depths. But especially interesting because of the concurrent above-ground flashiness and/or accomplishments. Very rare that the public foliage and depth of spiritual roots are balanced so.)

By the time I'd re-read everything in the house, I still greedily (and rather unspiritually!) needed more. So ordered a fresh, non-falling-apart version of the Complete Poems; the two bios by daughter Linda Gray Sexton ("Searching for Mercy Street" and "Half Life") and "Self-Portrait in Letters" (all of which I'd already read from the library but didn't own); plus something new that I found: "The Last Summer"---a book of photographs from said sad summer by Arthur Furst.

When I awoke today for work, had the line "Every year I resurrect/What ash I can" in my head. The rest of the first stanza finally fell into place at lunch. The rest, eh. That feels kind of forced. I felt the first 3 lines were the beginning of a much longer elegy, but the second 3 kind of summed things up too quickly and neatly. I'd like to eventually end the proper elegy with "Give me your hand." (Which has nothing to do with these first lines, but which is a recurring theme in both the "Therapy Tapes" book and in her poetry. Wait. I take that back---A final line of "Give me your hand" has EVERYTHING to do with an eventual resurrection from ash and bone and pure spirit into flesh.)


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