"Oh the blackness is murderous
and the milk tip is brimming
and each machine is working
and I will kiss you when
I cut up one dozen new men
and you will die somewhat,
again and again."

An excerpt from “Again and Again and Again,” Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton, The Kiss (an excerpt)

Anne Sexton, The Kiss (an excerpt)


1st I love you.
2. You never let me down.
3. I know. I was there once. I too, was 40 and with a dead mother who I needed still… .

This is my message to the 40-year-old Linda. No matter what happens you were always my bobolink, my special Linda Gray. Life is not easy. It is awfully lonely. I know that. Now you too know it —wherever you are, Linda, talking to me. But I’ve had a good life—I wrote unhappy—but I lived to the hilt. You too, Linda—Live to the HILT! To the top. I love you, 40-year-old Linda, and I love what you do, what you find, what you are!—Be your own woman. Belong to those you love. Talk to my poems, and talk to your heart—I’m in both: if you need me.


— letter from Anne Sexton to her daughter, written while flying to a reading in April of 1969. Five years after writing this letter, she would kill herself.

"As it has been said:
Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love."

— Anne Sexton

For My Lover, Returning To His Wife

    She is all there.
    She was melted carefully down for you
    and cast up from your childhood,
    cast up from your one hundred favorite aggies.

    She has always been there, my darling.
    She is, in fact, exquisite.
    Fireworks in the dull middle of February
    and as real as a cast-iron pot.

    Let’s face it, I have been momentary.
    A luxury. A bright red sloop in the harbor.
    My hair rising like smoke from the car window.
    Littleneck clams out of season.

    She is more than that. She is your have to have,
    has grown you your practical your tropical growth.
    This is not an experiment. She is all harmony.
    She sees to oars and oarlocks for the dinghy,

    has placed wild flowers at the window at breakfast,
    sat by the potter’s wheel at midday,
    set forth three children under the moon,
    three cherubs drawn by Michelangelo,

    done this with her legs spread out
    in the terrible months in the chapel.
    If you glance up, the children are there
    like delicate balloons resting on the ceiling.

    She has also carried each one down the hall
    after supper, their heads privately bent,
    two legs protesting, person to person
    her face flushed with a song and their little sleep.

    I give you back your heart.
    I give you permission—

    for the fuse inside her, throbbing
    angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
    and the burying of her wound—
    for the burying of her small red wound alive—

    for the pale flickering flare under her ribs,
    for the drunken sailor who waits in her left pulse,
    for the mother’s knee, for the stockings,
    for the garter belt, for the call—

    the curious call
    when you will burrow in arms and breasts
    and tug at the orange ribbon in her hair
    and answer the call, the curious call.

    She is so naked and singular.
    She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
    Climb her like a monument, step after step.
    She is solid.

    As for me, I am a watercolor.
    I wash off.

- Anne Sexton, For My Lover, Returning To His Wife