from Hymns to the God My Typewriter Believes In
for Anne Sexton
To write is to walk over the surface of story, kicking at patterns. It is not told, but told of. Do not extinguish its thought; it is better worn down to its threads!
Three times you type the same words, an incantation. The circle is repeated three times.
She invites you in, but the promise is clumsy, distant. Perhaps you withdraw from the reiterated details, threadbare traps. Keep still, like a bartender, as she passes the bar
paces the boundaries of her body, skin prowler. Her red face is a giveaway that you won’t take up.
Deletions first! The story has clearly begun again, an odyssey of carpet navigations and curious misspellings. We are not going to escape the whiplash across the bad lines.
X marked the spot, only we’re adrift.
She’s out in the bathroom, throwing up, washing her hands again and again; she’s caught somewhere in the wrong poem.
It’s ‘bliss’ she can’t spell, as though her thighs might splay drunkenly if you caught her saying ‘blish’.
Blushing without bliss
She pulls the rug from under us
The lines are on her body
Stolen and scuffed
Scoured by soap in a Victorian scullery
At least a suspicion
Her thighs on duty
Thinking in circles again
Ask: which metaphor was which bit of whose sore thumb?
She’s not listening, no longer beside you. She’s
beside herself with hunger. The aphrodisiac silence
smooth below the waist like a manikin
Perfect playmateof a thought
a Crusoe of radishesand I-spy
fix your position
for the same polished performance
You can climb aladder but you can’t
climb out of the bookWe could snigger at
the smut but we’d get thrownclean out of the playhouse
Move back and see what energy we can distil from what we didn’t want to say. The bride has fallen, whorishly. No heart can rip her skirts off, not in a busk.
Tear up the carpet and paste its patterns on your consciousness. It is censored by the scribbler after the prayer was rolled out of its scroll, January 2nd-3rd 1962.