YOU, DOCTOR MARTIN

Anne Sexton

YOU, DOCTOR MARTINYou, Doctor Martin, walk

from breakfast to madness. Late August,

I speed through the antiseptic tunnel

where the moving dead still talk

of pushing their bones against the thrust

of cure. And I am queen of this summer

hotel or the laughing bee on a stalk
.
of death. We stand in broken

lines and wait while they unlock

the door and count us at the frozen gates

of dinner. The shibboleth is spoken

and we move to gravy in our smock

of smiles. We chew in rows, our plates

scratch and whine like chalk
.
in school. There are no knives

for cutting your throat. I make

moccasins all morning. At first my hands

kept empty, unraveled for the lives

they used to work. Now I learn to take

them back, each angry finger that demands

I mend what another will break
.
tomorrow. Of course, I love you;

you lean above the plastic sky,

god of our block, prince of all the foxes.

The breaking crowns are new

that Jack wore. Your third eye

moves among us and lights the separate boxes

where we sleep or cry.
.
What large children we are

here. All over I grow most tall

in the best ward. Your business is people,

you call at the madhouse, an oracular

eye in our nest. Out in the hall

the intercom pages you. You twist in the pull

of the foxy children who fall
.
like floods of life in frost.

And we are magic talking to itself,

noisy and alone. I am queen of all my sins

forgotten. Am I still lost?

Once I was beautiful. Now I am myself,

counting this row and that row of moccasins

waiting on the silent shelf.
.
An early reminder that we’ll be reading and discussing the poetry of Anne Sexton on July 27.

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