Wash Yourself of Yourself

For my lover, returning to his wife

“She is all there.
She was melted carefully down for you
and cast up from your childhood,
cast up from your one hundred favorite aggies.
She has always been there, my darling.
She is, in fact, exquisite.
Fireworks in the dull middle of February
and as real as a cast-iron pot.
Let’s face it, I have been momentary.
vA luxury. A bright red sloop in the harbor.
My hair rising like smoke from the car window.
Littleneck clams out of season.
She is more than that. She is your have to have,
has grown you your practical your tropical growth.
This is not an experiment. She is all harmony.
She sees to oars and oarlocks for the dinghy,
has placed wild flowers at the window at breakfast,
sat by the potter’s wheel at midday,
set forth three children under the moon,
three cherubs drawn by Michelangelo,
done this with her legs spread out
in the terrible months in the chapel.
If you glance up, the children are there
like delicate balloons resting on the ceiling.
She has also carried each one down the hall
after supper, their heads privately bent,
two legs protesting, person to person,
her face flushed with a song and their little sleep.
I give you back your heart.
I give you permission –
for the fuse inside her, throbbing
angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
and the burying of her wound –
for the burying of her small red wound alive –
for the pale flickering flare under her ribs,
for the drunken sailor who waits in her left pulse,
for the mother’s knee, for the stocking,
for the garter belt, for the call –
the curious call
when you will burrow in arms and breasts
and tug at the orange ribbon in her hair
and answer the call, the curious call.
She is so naked and singular
She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
Climb her like a monument, step after step.
She is solid.
As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.”- ( Anne Sexton)

Anne Sexton is a favorite poet.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Sexton)This poem of hers has many interpretations based on the events of her life;it is said to refer to the affair she had  with her psychiatrist and he returned to his wife.The most accepted interpretation is apparently  the temporariness of the mistress . To many, it shows  the lack of self confidence in Anne Sexton and her inability to hold him.

When I read this poem,I interpreted  it completely differently. With the rawness of the words and the anguish, I notice there is an immense strength.Not low self-confidence. It actually points to the weakness and hypocrisy in the cheating husband. While she definitely is  hurt by his hollowness and inability to stand by her,strangely she  shows a compassion for the cheated wife, acknowledging her contribution.There is this righteousness ,morality and of course extra-ordinary courage and power  in her words ” I give you back your heart, I give you permission” .She is thus  removing her affection for this man,  severing all emotional ties. She is washing herself off him actually. The impermanence of  watercolor and its washing off is not her.It is him.

So  Rumi says “Be melting snow.Wash yourself of yourself”.

Somehow I get reminded of this song. Check out the lyrics  🙂


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