Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Tuesday Poem: "Anne Sexton’s Last Letter to God" by Tracey Herd

This is the last letter I will write
sitting at my kitchen table

with the blue coffee mug

at my elbow and the pot

roasting each bean to perfection:

faraway continents

in my cluttered suburban kitchen.

The sun is sharp through the blinds,

crisscrossing the kitchen’s

clean tiles with yellow and white.

I walk a knife-edge of light.

This is the last letter I will write.

I have been a witch, clothed in rags

and shrieking. I have borrowed

the wings of angels and given them back:

a poor fit, and yes, like Icarus

I had no sense and didn’t much like

falling back to earth. I have had lovers

by the dozen, some poets and others

and a faithful husband that I left

in the end. I have written painfully evocative

letters from Europe and many poems,

but this is the last letter I will write.

God is in your typewriter, the old priest said
and I wanted a father so badly, that for months

I believed him, transfixed by small miracles

and clutching my golden crucifix

on my knees by the empty bed. Lately

I have given a few well-received readings

in my high heels and my favourite red dress,

the posters that displayed me in defiant pose.

I was always dramatic with my husky voice,

my fingers curled around a cigarette

and the ending always upbeat.

I have just lunched with an old friend

saying goodbye and something

‘she couldn’t quite catch’.

Now I have locked the front door behind me,

squinting a little as autumn spills down

from the skies and the trees. Here

is a small miracle and I am walking away.

I wrap my mother’s fur coat

tightly around me, although I have

no need of its warmth today. The sun

is a cat stroking my neck, winding itself

contently around my long slender legs.

I pause by the garage door to admire

the autumn leaves in their 
sourball colours.

A drink is in order. A double.

A toast to old friends, to those

on the other end of the phone and to those

who for one reason or another

have abandoned me. I pull the car door

closed and turn the key.

This, God, is 
my journey.
I have cut the lines

between us: no more tantrums.

No more poems. I am not

your daughter, your mother, your lover.

No more letters then, from me to you, God

and it amuses me to think of your

impotent displeasure as I settle myself

comfortably into the driver’s seat.

by Tracey Herd

For more information about poet, Tracey Herd, see:

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