“Words bother me. I think it is why I am a poet. I keep trying to force myself to speak of the things that remain mute inside. My poems only come when I have almost lost the ability to utter a word. To speak, in a way, of the unspeakable. To make an object out of the chaos … To say what? A final cry into the void.”
—Anne Sexton, from a letter to Dennis Farrell, August 2, 1963
I do not tell you that loneliness is
me in bed, arms folded tightly
around my abdomen like I’m holding
myself. My body is all science.
You will not find God here. I watch
your face as you tell me that you
think you’re really in love this time
and I wonder who you think you are
and why you think the game has
changed. I don’t wish the very best for
you. I am no Hallmark card
but I’ve perfected the art of fake
smiling so hard you can feel it
in your own mouth and have to push
the glass of Coke away and remind
yourself to schedule an appointment
with the dentist. I love you
means what it always has and
my hunger is so desperate
that I am in a constant state of
feeding. Lonely is still slinking in
under the door long after the lock
has been set. I don’t wait up for it.
When we kiss I taste smoke in
my mouth and lipstick that isn’t
mine. I wonder how many bars you’ve
been to, wonder how many warm,
liquored up bodies you’ve been
through. You come up behind me
and anchor your body to mine like
we’re still out at sea. You figure that
at least one of us should come
back and why not both? I reach
around blindly in the dark. I unlock
your arms. Figure neither of us do.
He buries his face into my hair and inhales.
If I live anywhere in his body,
I live in his lungs. There are better organs
I’m sure, but it’s warm here too,
and most of the sound stays away.
Sometimes in the middle of the night,
I wake up to feel my spine against the wall.
I don’t mean to make this all about bodies
but we are the sort of people whose faith is
Tangibility, and there is little room
for dreamy motions or romantic confessions.
Some mornings, I don’t even stay for coffee.
How do I explain then, the nova in my stomach,
and the bird in my throat who, as time passes,
beats his wings more furiously. I have to keep
my mouth closed to prevent feathers
from bursting out. And oh, what trouble it would be
if a song escaped. What beautiful trouble
it would do to our small little worlds.