For a Dead Poetess
What a cracked life!
Though you were all Pulitzered up, feted by all those Boston poets,
all now festooned over the canon like a string of paper dolls.
“Mother was like wallpaper,”
one of your “string beans” said after
you gassed yourself in the garage.
Your daughters must’ve been chafing under all that brittle brilliance, suffocating
under all those poems strewn about the house, all stuffed up
with la de dah’s and gods and crazy witches.
And you with those moony
mommy moods that snapped if so much as a fly buzzed by.
You should’ve had queer sons.
Sons will suckle long after your milk’s turned sour.
To them you would’ve always been some Brahmin Boston tit big as Mount Rushmore.
wouldn’t let you whimper alone in your writing room
behind your typewriter
regretting that you pushed away what little love you had.
So what if your attention was pivoted on yourself as squarely as a twirling toe-shoe.
So you had no talent for clockwork love. So the warm and fuzzies
on your kitchen stove. Surely all those poems must count for
And from that glamorous poet heaven where mad as ever
you now flit with your kind,
have you told your girls that all palsied and crooked inside,
you still steered them out of childhood,
that you could have drowned them one by one in the bathtub,
that you could have slid them softly into the Charles?
Is that what you feared about yourself?
Would you now trade that slim volume for one life that held you like a hammock?
Maxine, your friend, says it’s poetry that let you live
long as you did. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, or as you’d say, la de dah.
Poetry is the symptom of what killed you.
But what do they know, Anne, those sane women–friends and daughters?