Saturday, September 14, 2013


by anne sexton

The month is dumb.
It is fraudulent.
It does not cleanse itself.
The hens lay blood-stained eggs.
Do not lend your bread to anyone
lest it nevermore rise.
Do not eat lentils or your hair will fall out.

Do not rely on February
except when your cat has kittens,
throbbing into the snow.
Do not use knives and forks
unless there is a thaw,
like the yawn of a baby.
The sun in this month
begets a headache
like an angel slapping you in the face.

Earthquakes mean March.
The dragon will move,
and the earth will open like a wound.
There will be great rain or snow
so have some coal for your uncle.
The sun of this month cures all.
Therefore, old women say:
Let the sun of March shine on my daughter,
but let the sun of February shine on my daughter-in-law.
However, if you go to a party
dressed as the anti-Christ
you will be frozen to death by morning.

During the rainstorms of April
the oyster rises from the sea
and opens its shell —
rain enters it —
when it sinks the raindrops
become the pearl.
So take a picnic,
open your body,
and give birth to pearls.

June and July?
These are the months
we call Boiling Water.
There is sweat on the cat but the grape
marries herself to the sun.

Hesitate in August.
Be shy.
Let your toes tremble in their sandals.
However, pick the grape
and eat with confidence.
The grape is the blood of God.
Watch out when holding a knife
or you will behead St. John the Baptist.

Touch the Cross in September,
knock on it three times
and say aloud the name of the Lord.
Put seven bowls of salt on the roof overnight
and the next morning the damp one
will foretell the month of rain.
Do not faint in September
or you will wake up in a dead city.

If someone dies in October
do not sweep the house for three days
or the rest of you will go.
Also do not step on a boy's head
for the devil will enter your ears
like music.

whether you have hair or not.
Hair is not good,
nothing is allowed to grow,
all is allowed to die.
Because nothing grows
you may be tempted to count the stars
but beware,
in November counting the stars
gives you boils.
Beware the tall people,
they will go mad.
Don't harm the turtle dove
because he is a great shoe
that has swallowed Christ's blood.

On December fourth
water spurts out of the mouse.
Put herbs in its eyes and boil corn
and put the corn away for the night
so that the Lord may trample on it
and bring you luck.
For many days the Lord has been
shut up in the oven.
After that He is boiled,
but He never dies, never dies.

~ from The Awful Rowing Toward God, 1975