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The Break

Written by: Anne Sexton | Biography
 | Quotes (127) |
 It was also my violent heart that broke,
falling down the front hall stairs.
It was also a message I never spoke, calling, riser after riser, who cares about you, who cares, splintering up the hip that was merely made of crystal, the post of it and also the cup.
I exploded in the hallway like a pistol.
So I fell apart.
So I came all undone.
Yes.
I was like a box of dog bones.
But now they've wrapped me in like a nun.
Burst like firecrackers! Held like stones! What a feat sailing queerly like Icarus until the tempest undid me and I broke.
The ambulance drivers made such a fuss.
But when I cried, "Wait for my courage!" they smoked and then they placed me, tied me up on their plate, and wheeled me out to their coffin, my nest.
Slowly the siren slowly the hearse, sedate as a dowager.
At the E.
W.
they cut off my dress.
I cried, "Oh Jesus, help me! Oh Jesus Christ!" and the nurse replied, "Wrong name.
My name is Barbara," and hung me in an odd device, a buck's extension and a Balkan overhead frame.
The orthopedic man declared, "You'll be down for a year.
" His scoop.
His news.
He opened the skin.
He scraped.
He pared and drilled through bone for his four-inch screws.
That takes brute strength like pushing a cow up hill.
I tell you, it takes skill and bedside charm and all that know how.
The body is a damn hard thing to kill.
But please don't touch or jiggle my bed.
I'm Ethan Frome's wife.
I'll move when I'm able.
The T.
V.
hangs from the wall like a moose head.
I hide a pint of bourbon in my bedside table.
A bird full of bones, now I'm held by a sand bag.
The fracture was twice.
The fracture was double.
The days are horizontal.
The days are a drag.
All of the skeleton in me is in trouble.
Across the hall is the bedpan station.
The urine and stools pass hourly by my head in silver bowls.
They flush in unison in the autoclave.
My one dozen roses are dead.
The have ceased to menstruate.
They hang there like little dried up blood clots.
And the heart too, that cripple, how it sang once.
How it thought it could call the shots! Understand what happened the day I fell.
My heart had stammered and hungered at a marriage feast until the angel of hell turned me into the punisher, the acrobat.
My bones are loose as clothespins, as abandoned as dolls in a toy shop and my heart, old hunger motor, with its sins revved up like an engine that would not stop.
And now I spend all day taking care of my body, that baby.
Its cargo is scarred.
I anoint the bedpan.
I brush my hair, waiting in the pain machine for my bones to get hard, for the soft, soft bones that were laid apart and were screwed together.
They will knit.
And the other corpse, the fractured heart, I feed it piecemeal, little chalice.
I'm good to it.
Yet lie a fire alarm it waits to be known.
It is wired.
In it many colors are stored.
While my body's in prison, heart cells alone have multiplied.
My bones are merely bored with all this waiting around.
But the heart, this child of myself that resides in the flesh, this ultimate signature of the me, the start of my blindness and sleep, builds a death crèche.
The figures are placed at the grave of my bones.
All figures knowing it is the other death they came for.
Each figure standing alone.
The heart burst with love and lost its breath.
This little town, this little country is real and thus it is so of the post and the cup and thus of the violent heart.
The zeal of my house doth eat me up.



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