Borrowing Anne Sexton's Attire

Borrowing Anne Sexton’s Attire

I’m thinking of a black dress.

I’m thinking of nakedness.

I’m thinking of becoming an Anne Sexton wannabe who, like a white-trash Marilyn clone, reminds the world of how dead skin is shed as ruthlessly as a poet discarding words for the sake of the rhyme.

I’m thinking of a song, of The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator. Serenading myself till twilight, I drink my whisky neat.

I’m thinking of feet and metre, of dactyls and trochaics, of a villanelle my friend Sylvia stole, the lament we shared.

I’m thinking of a woman’s voice, of bitterness callused by bad choices, bad marriages and bad men.

I’m thinking of a tour, of readings where I wear a red gown and nothing underneath. My cigarette half-cocked, I listen to an inner voice, tender as a girl’s, persuading me to soften my delivery.

I’m thinking of the children I never bore.

I’m thinking of letting go. Not an oven, but a closed garage and a car.

I’m thinking of the other side, of the paradise of having years trickle from my bones until old age has drained me, a borehole drawing off the sap.

I’m thinking of a Massachusetts Pine. Return me to it; bury me amongst its roots.

I’m thinking of a suit, skin-tight as a coffin or a collected works. The Complete Poems: an epitaph. Arriving home. No escape; the end.


'Borrowing Annie Sexton's Attire', from Lost Relatives (Steele Roberts, New Zealand, 2011), © Siobhan Harvey 2011, used by permission of the author. Poet’s private recording 2011.

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