h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s

 

 

.........
AMY NEWMAN



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When Anne Sexton Makes Enough Money Selling Beauty Counselor Cosmetics 
Door-To-Door, She Buys James Wright's The Green Wall


When Anne Sexton makes enough money selling Beauty Counselor Cosmetics door-to-door, 
she buys James Wright's The Green Wall, winner of the Yale Younger Poets Series for 1957.
It's a pretty good deal for all those afternoons walking across the transom
into a stranger's home, moving from the fresh-cut lawn's perfect green
to the housewife's fenced-in field of a heart, toughened, yes,
but still alive, and more aware, you can tell, because the new lipstick
brightens your mouth into an Oh. Every she who dwells in the suburban kingdom
knows the bedtime story of the prince who loved you, just that once,
among the glades, within the grove, beneath the tree's tiresome
ripening fruit, the disinterested doves lamenting what they know.
His love-from-a-distance-glance, his nervous-tender-glory,
I saw you and I had to know you, dark eyes,
the handsome hand tightening on your bouquet of pinks,
of whatever you've got hidden up there, and whatever it is,
it really gets in the way.
Anne's black patent leather sample case on her arm
is shell pink on the inside, a promising pink,
lighter than the pink of a mouth, much less pink than the womb,
that impure, luxurious vessel, that cave of causes,
that pink trapdoor, frilly as a corsage.
But you have to look closer, American poetry.
The tightly wrapped, butcher-strung housewife heart
sends out her wild response anyway, and what comes of it
is worth your time. When the dove flies off, there's all that wingwork,
whistling. Sexton and Wright, sometime in the future,
will dance in a kitchen, giddy with love,
whitish hands covered in cookie flour, kissing to Sibelius,
also happily ever after, also once upon a time.





...........
While Assia Wevill Studies The London Evening Standard For An Apartment To Sublet, 
John Berryman Disagrees With A Nun At His Summer Seminar About Her 
Interpretation Of A Passage From “Song Of Myself”  


While Assia Wevill studies the London Evening Standard 
for an apartment to sublet, John Berryman disagrees with a nun
about her interpretation of “Song Of Myself.”
She's puzzled by Whitman's integration of body and soul
because it erases boundaries, and he's all ego, isn't he?
Is not the silence of God's absence immiscible? she asks.
Does the poet understand the effort it takes to erase the self for such love?

Berryman, idiosyncratic with flesh,
receives the infinite soul of a blessed Tareyton into his body
while he imagines the nun's immateriality
beneath her tabernacle of robes, her words
washed in those perfect lungs, forced from her guileless throat to the room
like tiny Adams and Eves fleeing a picket-fence Eden.
That was a time, pal, that crossing over, the flesh got tender,
purity of heart complicated with a twitchy lust,
the world got its trouble-de-doo, got all its metaphors. Wasn't Christ—
dimensional, wriggling, obscured, in darkness,
up all night, troubled, abandoned—
one enormous wound? And doesn't flesh open endlessly,
each striated tendon bathed in blood,
that same lacquery red as his eyelid's inside?
Born from this air, sister, every atom as good as belongs.
In London, Assia studies the paper and chooses 3 Chalcot Square,
where Ted and Sylvia lean their red, impatient souls
into each other's cleaving body. Plath's desire is exquisite,
a root bathed in the waters of bitterness,
righteous as inflammation, trailing sin like hair.
In Massenet's Thais, the shivering girl gives up her lust
to walk, andante religioso, into a dessert,
the parched bliss of dispossession which is eternal life,
but the monk wants her, Ooh la la!
That's the trouble! The heart's articulate slaughterhouse
is so rosy with wanting, it goes all the way to the bony bone.
Assia's legs, hinged open at the mainspring,
begin their slow release of power forward.
I celebrate myself, the doorbell says.





...........
While Anne Sexton And Her Daughters Peer Through The Window To 
Scan The Sky For Santa Claus, Robert Lowell Watches William Carlos Williams' 
Train Leave Boston Station


While Anne Sexton and her daughters peer through the window 
to scan the sky for Santa Claus,
Robert Lowell watches William Carlos Williams' train leave Boston Station,
retreating in an acute angle among the snowflakes' perfect, perishing forms.
The train is resolving to the past tense, with Williams inside
like a narrowing messiah, gone to the cave only halfway through the myth.
If the train carrying Williams leaves the station, traveling 50 mph,
and Lowell's dextrous heart beats at 60 mph,
at what time will that package of blood, that aqueduct of will,
wired up with arteries like a transistor radio, contracting its syllables,
pass Williams' train? And what then?
What is that manic organ for, if not to pace enthralled in the body,
to document a provisional cortege of belief
to the exhausting, see-through sky?
Through the upstairs window of their house in Newton Lower Falls,
Anne Sexton and her daughters scan the sky for Santa Claus.
Who doesn't love that temporary splendor of belief
that might appear above the variegated world, in an easter of arrivals?
In the bedtime stories it was always touch and go,
the prince longing for you, having scoured the world
having suffered intensely, because you deserved his love,
or the children in the cottage made of cake and icing,
waiting for God, and starved to the childish bone.
All legends begin with a wound that hurts
the latent oblivion that is any door opening.
Mingled with flesh, everything is metaphor:
the steeple's arrow scratching at the hiding place,
the advent calendar's striptease,
Anne narrating, for her daughters, a tinsel eden,
a season of happiness in a finite space.
Look up in the sky, poetry! Maybe he's there,
aloof, suffering, returning, and Anne
dreams of him, flirts with the idea of him,
the stubborn one who loves her anyway, the one who got away. Amy Newman is the author of Order, or Disorder, Camera Lyrica, fall, and Dear Editor. She teaches at Northern Illinois University.





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