Anne Sexton – Self in 1958   Leave a comment

Anne Sexton reads her poem Self in 1958

Self in 1958
What is reality?
I am a plaster doll; I pose
With eyes that cut open without landfall or nightfall
Upon some shellacked and grinning person,
Eyes that open, blue, steel, and close.
Am I approximately an I. Magnum transplant?
I have hair, black angel,
Black-angel-stuffing to comb,
Nylon legs, luminous arms
And some advertised clothes.

I live in a doll’s house
With four chairs,
A counterfeit table, a flat roof
And a big front door.
Many have come to such a small crossroad.
There is an iron bed,
(Life enlarges, life takes aim)
A cardboard floor,
Windows that flash open on someone’s city,
And little more.

Someone plays with me,
Plants me in the all-electric kitchen,
Is this what Mrs. Rombauer said?
Someone pretends with me—
I am walled in solid by their noise—
Or puts me upon their straight bed.
They think I am me!
Their warmth? Their warmth is not a friend!
They pry my mouth for their cups of gin
And their stale bread.

What is reality
To this synthetic doll
Who should smile, who should shift gears,
Should spring the doors open in a wholesome disorder,
And have no evidence of ruin or fears?
But I would cry,
Rooted into the wall that
Was once my mother,
If I could remember how
And if I had the tears.



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