This particular poem, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation

Poem of the Day: The Truth the Dead Know

BY ANNE SEXTON

Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.

We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.

My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one’s alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.

And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in their stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.


In the second stanza, “I cultivate/ myself” declares a mastery of language. I can only hope that I’ll be able to speak that clearly in my life, being able to attend to situations with words that fit like a glove and offer aid in times that leave us speechless.

“They lie without shoes/ in their stone boats.” What is it about the lack of shoes that so firmly grasped my attention?

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