Poem – The Breast – Anne Sexton

This is the key to it. 

This is the key to everything. 

Preciously. 
I am worse than the gamekeeper’s children 

picking for dust and bread. 

Here I am drumming up perfume. 
Let me go down on your carpet, 

your straw mattress – whatever’s at hand 

because the child in me is dying, dying. 
It is not that I am cattle to be eaten. 

It is not that I am some sort of street. 

But your hands found me like an architect. 
Jugful of milk! It was yours years ago 

when I lived in the valley of my bones, 

bones dumb in the swamp. Little playthings. 
A xylophone maybe with skin 

stretched over it awkwardly. 

Only later did it become something real. 
Later I measured my size against movie stars. 

I didn’t measure up. Something between 

my shoulders was there. But never enough. 
Sure, there was a meadow, 

but no yound men singing the truth. 

Nothing to tell truth by. 
Ignorant of men I lay next to my sisters 

and rising out of the ashes I cried 

my sex will be transfixed! 
Now I am your mother, your daughter, your brand new thing – a snail, a nest. 

I am alive when your fingers are. 
I wear silk – the cover to uncover – 

because silk is what I want you to think of. 

But I dislike the cloth. It is too stern. 
So tell me anything but track me like a climber 

for here is the eye, here is the jewel, 

here is the excitement the nipple learns. 
I am unbalanced – but I am not mad with snow. 

I am mad the way young girls are mad, 

with an offering, an offering… 
I burn the way money burns.

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