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45 Mercy Street

Written by: Anne Sexton | Biography
 | Quotes (127) |
 In my dream, 
drilling into the marrow 
of my entire bone, 
my real dream, 
I'm walking up and down Beacon Hill 
searching for a street sign -- 
namely MERCY STREET.
Not there.
I try the Back Bay.
Not there.
Not there.
And yet I know the number.
45 Mercy Street.
I know the stained-glass window of the foyer, the three flights of the house with its parquet floors.
I know the furniture and mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, the servants.
I know the cupboard of Spode the boat of ice, solid silver, where the butter sits in neat squares like strange giant's teeth on the big mahogany table.
I know it well.
Not there.
Where did you go? 45 Mercy Street, with great-grandmother kneeling in her whale-bone corset and praying gently but fiercely to the wash basin, at five A.
M.
at noon dozing in her wiggy rocker, grandfather taking a nap in the pantry, grandmother pushing the bell for the downstairs maid, and Nana rocking Mother with an oversized flower on her forehead to cover the curl of when she was good and when she was.
.
.
And where she was begat and in a generation the third she will beget, me, with the stranger's seed blooming into the flower called Horrid.
I walk in a yellow dress and a white pocketbook stuffed with cigarettes, enough pills, my wallet, my keys, and being twenty-eight, or is it forty-five? I walk.
I walk.
I hold matches at street signs for it is dark, as dark as the leathery dead and I have lost my green Ford, my house in the suburbs, two little kids sucked up like pollen by the bee in me and a husband who has wiped off his eyes in order not to see my inside out and I am walking and looking and this is no dream just my oily life where the people are alibis and the street is unfindable for an entire lifetime.
Pull the shades down -- I don't care! Bolt the door, mercy, erase the number, rip down the street sign, what can it matter, what can it matter to this cheapskate who wants to own the past that went out on a dead ship and left me only with paper? Not there.
I open my pocketbook, as women do, and fish swim back and forth between the dollars and the lipstick.
I pick them out, one by one and throw them at the street signs, and shoot my pocketbook into the Charles River.
Next I pull the dream off and slam into the cement wall of the clumsy calendar I live in, my life, and its hauled up notebooks.



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