Poem – Clothes – Anne Sexton

Put on a clean shirt

 before you die, some Russian said. 

Nothing with drool, please, 

no egg spots, no blood, 

no sweat, no sperm. 

You want me clean, God, 

so I’ll try to comply. 
The hat I was married in, 

will it do? 

White, broad, fake flowers in a tiny array. 

It’s old-fashioned, as stylish as a bedbug, 

but is suits to die in something nostalgic. 
And I’ll take 

my painting shirt 

washed over and over of course 

spotted with every yellow kitchen I’ve painted. 

God, you don’t mind if I bring all my kitchens? 

They hold the family laughter and the soup. 
For a bra 

(need we mention it?) , 

the padded black one that my lover 

demeaned 

when I took it off. 

He said, ‘Where’d it all go? ‘ 
And I’ll take 

the maternity skirt of my ninth month, 

a window for the love-belly 

that let each baby pop out like and apple, 

the water breaking in the restaurant, 

making a noisy house I’d like to die in. 
For underpants I’ll pick white cotton, 

the briefs of my childhood, 

for it was my mother’s dictum 

that nice girls wore only white cotton. 

If my mother had lived to see it 

she would have put a WANTED sign up in the 

post office 

for the black, the red, the blue I’ve worn. 

Still, it would be perfectly fine with me 

to die like a nice girl 

smelling of Clorox and Duz. 

Being sixteen-in-the-pants 

I would die full of questions.

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