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Baby Picture

 It's in the heart of the grape
where that smile lies.
It's in the good-bye-bow in the hair where that smile lies.
It's in the clerical collar of the dress where that smile lies.
What smile? The smile of my seventh year, caught here in the painted photograph.
It's peeling now, age has got it, a kind of cancer of the background and also in the assorted features.
It's like a rotten flag or a vegetable from the refrigerator, pocked with mold.
I am aging without sound, into darkness, darkness.
Anne, who are you? I open the vein and my blood rings like roller skates.
I open the mouth and my teeth are an angry army.
I open the eyes and they go sick like dogs with what they have seen.
I open the hair and it falls apart like dust balls.
I open the dress and I see a child bent on a toilet seat.
I crouch there, sitting dumbly pushing the enemas out like ice cream, letting the whole brown world turn into sweets.
Anne, who are you? Merely a kid keeping alive.

by Anne Sexton
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