The Mother’s Image
After Anne Sexton
I am 38 this February.
You are tall, in your 11th year.
In the dresser mirror,
we pose like mannequins,
our plastic smiles carry
the hidden fear. With sheer
force, we peer and grin,
speak with blinks and nods—know
that this too shall pass.
You’ll fly. I’ll go low—too low.
Three times I’ve married.
Three times I’ve failed.
Warnings—spoken, texted, mailed
and published in essay and poem,
I’ve given to you. As frail
as these syllables are, like foam
on top of your sundae with a cherry,
I know you have listened—
you will never marry.
Divorce—more complex than
any equation or test,
is the poisonous bet.
When he slams the door in your face
and you see him in every man—
the rope, the tree, and the rest
marching to put you in your place—
you won’t have to ask if they’re the same.
You, sweet daughter, won’t be naïve.
Men carry matching names.