Thursday, September 08, 2016

Keeping the City ~ Anne Sexton



Once,in August,head on your chest,I heard wingsbattering up the place,something inside trying to fly outand I was silentand attentive,the watchman.I was your small public,your small audiencebut it was you that was clapping,it was you untying the snarls and knots,the webs, all bloody and gluey;you with your twelve tongues and twelve wingsbeating, wresting, beating, beatingyour way out of childhood,that airless net that fastened you down.

Since then I was more silentthough you had gone miles away,tearing down, rebuilding the fortress.I was therebut could do nothingbut guard the citylest it break.

I was silent.I had a strange idea I could overhearbut that your voice, tongue, wingbelonged solely to you.The Lord was silent too.I did not know if he could keep you whole,where I, miles away, yet head on your chest,could do nothing. Not a single thing.

The wings of the watchman,if I spoke, would hurt the bird of your soulas he nested, bit, sucked, flapped.I wanted him to fly, burst like a missile from your throat,burst from the spidery-mother-web,burst from Woman herselfwhere too many had laid out lightsthat stuck to you and left a burnthat smarted into your middle age.

The cityof my choicethat I guardlike a butterfly, useless, uselessin her yellow costume, swirlingswirling around the gates.The city shifts, falls, rebuilds,and I can do nothing.A watchmanshould be on the alert,but never cocksure.And The Lord -who knows what he keepeth?

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