Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A poem by Anne Sexton

Awake at this unGodly hour for no good reason, it occurs to me that it's Ted Kennedy's birthday today, which makes me very, very sad. Not just cause I miss him on this earth, but because of the Obama debacle. The mess that healthcare has become, unchecked corporate power, endless war, the assault on unions happening this moment. Brings to mind The Ballad of Owen Roe O'Neill—the forces against us seem no less Cromwellian (the puritanical zeal for power being an equivalent of the glutton's zeal for wealth).

Had a long conversation with Paula Jane about it not long ago, which I'm still turning over in my mind—searching for hope, I guess, among the darkness. Looking at the news tonight, I was struck by the similarity of the well-fed white men responsible for this state of affairs. Cruel, smug faces. Soulless eyes.

Trying to clear my head, looking up some poems I came across one written by a woman whose record as a feminist (and as a human being, to be honest) was rather spotty, from what I've read, but whom I still love, because of the power of her early poetry. Especially this poem, which expresses some of the emotion that I am feeling—commiseration, i reckon, is what i mean. None have felt the sting of the tyranny of the mediocre and the stupid—rampant, among us—more acutely than women have, which gives this poem its edge, i guess. Nevertheless, numbers of others feel it, in their own way, and for their own reasons.

Her Kind

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

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