“Anne, I Understand” // by Jennifer Patino
for Anne Sexton
It’s one of those things. We all go through them.
Our little sufferings. We all have our own
How many children did you bring? Up-swing.
How was your upbringing? Womanhood
is synonymous with duty.
Oh, I absolutely wanted you here. You complete
the room. Wear green. Blue. No black. No doom
or gloom. And where’s your other better half? Your groom?
They asked me these questions in a different time. They
asked me them on a different day. You changed it all for us.
You showed us suppressed females another way.
You made us see right through them. Their transparency.
You wouldn’t let them hide. You ripped rubber gloves off.
Dug right in. Your voice etched onto vinyl records is now therapy.
Thank you. For the attitude. Thank you. For acknowledgment
of every shade of moon and mood. Thank you for peach lipstick,
and jealousy, and pyrotechnic poems, and accusing eyes.
I imagine it was hard at the end. Harder still in the moments
you were sure it was the end and it wasn’t. You kept pounding along
on a typewriter, on a wooden door, dry skin cracking in winter, bloody knuckled.
I can imagine a smoke filled room with you. You are the smoke. You
blend into the wallpaper because our host says it’s vintage. You make
jokes and I’m your ventriloquist’s dummy speaking in your voice.
I have no choice. You felt that too. You over explained yourself. The worst
and best and gross and beautiful parts of yourself. Your books line the shelf
in the hospital, where I’m surprised you’re not banned. “Anne, I understand.”