Anne Champion

Issue #
April 26, 2020

Visiting Anne Sexton's Grave

Jamaica Plain, MA, June 2019

             “It is June. I am tired of being brave.” —Anne Sexton

I waited so long to come to you, until

            my eyelids were blackout curtain

sand I was sure every voice was a siren

            warning me to cower. I thought I defeated it,

Anne. I thought I found a way to escape

            your fate. No, Sylvia’s metaphor

was right all along—the bell jar hovers

            and you never know when it will descend

again, suffocate you, put your pain on display

            like some antique beauty. And I’m here,

kneeling in front of the cold, stone boat

            that holds you—the lover you lusted most.

There’s still a part of me that believes

            I’m your daughter, and you’re a nurturing mother,

though I’ve heard the rumors. How can I condemn

            the only words that swaddled me? Your grave

is littered with pens, shells, flowers: do you know

            how much love you have? Do I?

I’m here because you know how to wrench

            yourself from the womb of this world, how to sever

the umbilical cord that starved you. Your daughter

            says you were a monster. I told my mother

she’s a monster after she told me I lied about my rape.

            She sent me texts and emails that explained how women

who are actually raped go to the police—or their mothers,

            at least—anything else is a lie, because a woman’s lies

are her only weapon to injure. I blocked her

            and found myself on my floor, knees to chest,

a calcified stillborn. I can never judge you, Anne:

            this life mothered us and orphaned us in equal measure.

You taught me the lesson the dead know: if we wanted

            to wound the world, we’d do it with the truth.

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