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.