Poem of the Week

Anne Sexton Reads The Phone Book
* i have a knack for starting silly things at one of our local poetry readings... i love to imitate anne sexton and the sexy, dry, slow voice. one time i grabbed a phone book and started reading it like anne... 'plluuumberzz...' or 'lawwyerrzz...' the girl that was hosting the reading suggested after my little stint that we all write a poem called 'anne sexton reads the phone book' for the following wednesday's reading. so here's the one i came up with. enjoy *

Anne Sexton Reads The Phone Book

She had not picked up The Bible in a long time.
It was a dead weight to her now,
it screamed like hollow-eyed children.

All of those hospitals with their draining tubes,
those nurses made of rubber and wire,
fluorescence cascading down over the brittle
pages made her cringe

with the same shutter she had when
Sylvia had finally killed herself,
"That death was mine," she said.

Through these transformations, though, she
gained an insight while lying in all white,
surrounded by white curtains and walls,
sheets and uniforms- they stood

in a dead parade around her- white skinned and
sentinel- they made a mockery of her escape.
The phone book gaped at her. Its eyes

rolled like a horse's when she touched it-
The thick spine like an elephant,
The tender pages inviting, unlike the

onion skin Bible she had come to understand and loathe.
Though many pages were white, repeating
the incessant intolerance of the room,

there was a blessing of yellow. A sigh of relief
in black-lettered A's and B's- some larger,
an older and more accomplished sibling if you will, than the others.

None red-lettered like that manual of God. No gold painted
edges demanding care. A simple toss-me-around book,
not unlike her children.

By the time M came to visit between her fingers,
her mind, that deep belly of woe that it is, wondered,
"What is to become of the X, Y & Z?"

By the time she reached P, every word was laughable.

The "PSYCHOLOGISTS" listing played her a fool.

There is no need to read this book anymore.
Her toes have curled inside themselves,
her bed has cried out from a broken back,

her face has stiffened and grown cold. She has carefully
wrapped her new manuscript like a child she should have raised.

She never reached S.

She slept in her car until
no one could wake her up.
She was rowing toward God.
- Sunday, December 18, 2005

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