John Biscello

Issue #
April 26, 2020

Anne Sexton

It begins with a stopwatch, and a glass of water.
The stopwatch belonged to her father, or to her father’s father.
The glass of water is a joke. Imagine trying to remedy
all that desert within, all that scabbing red sand blown, with a single glass of water.
No, Anne, your dry heaves ran deep, your mirages coercions
shivering like wet sheets of plasma. The eye could only see so far,
the confessions could only cart you a dash further than the eye’s migration,
and where you left off, you began to teeter, and veer, to gag on green wind.
In the fairy tale, you were the witch, with seaweed for hair, and the daughter,
the red-hooded little girl with a broken stopwatch functioning as a false talisman:
time was not on your side, it climbed all over you and clung
like co-dependent parasites on parade, and you writhed in agony,
cried out for your father, before lying down and falling asleep on the forest-bed of pines.
When you awoke, the world was white, new-white, clean-white, too-clean-white,
and there was the blurred transit of hands, hooks, smocks, scrubs, operating instructions,
soft voices like slippered footsteps on carpeted stairs,
a mounting turban of verdigris bandages.  
None of it made sense. You did the best you could, you stood up,
you sat down, you confessed, as if every word was a grain of sand spitballed
into the eye of Eternity, you crafted a swimming hole in your desert
and brought lovers there to soak with you.
The sun kept on, as did time, wind, pills, angels,
you sang through your wounds, daily,
your typewriter a pet from heaven, which you ribbon-fed scaly bits of hell.
It went on, and on, until it didn’t, the angels scattering all at once,
or perhaps reshuffling to gather and lift you up.  
It ends with a stopwatch, locked in a drawer,
and an empty glass, where water
once touched lips.  

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