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Hurry Up Please Its Time

 What is death, I ask.
What is life, you ask.
I give them both my buttocks, my two wheels rolling off toward Nirvana.
They are neat as a wallet, opening and closing on their coins, the quarters, the nickels, straight into the crapper.
Why shouldn't I pull down my pants and moon the executioner as well as paste raisins on my breasts? Why shouldn't I pull down my pants and show my little cunny to Tom and Albert? They wee-wee funny.
I wee-wee like a squaw.
I have ink but no pen, still I dream that I can piss in God's eye.
I dream I'm a boy with a zipper.
It's so practical, la de dah.
The trouble with being a woman, Skeezix, is being a little girl in the first place.
Not all the books of the world will change that.
I have swallowed an orange, being woman.
You have swallowed a ruler, being man.
Yet waiting to die we are the same thing.
Jehovah pleasures himself with his axe before we are both overthrown.
Skeezix, you are me.
La de dah.
You grow a beard but our drool is identical.
Forgive us, Father, for we know not.
Today is November 14th, 1972.
I live in Weston, Mass.
, Middlesex County, U.
, and it rains steadily in the pond like white puppy eyes.
The pond is waiting for its skin.
the pond is waiting for its leather.
The pond is waiting for December and its Novocain.
It begins: Interrogator: What can you say of your last seven days? Anne: They were tired.
Interrogator: One day is enough to perfect a man.
Anne: I watered and fed the plant.
* My undertaker waits for me.
he is probably twenty-three now, learning his trade.
He'll stitch up the gren, he'll fasten the bones down lest they fly away.
I am flying today.
I am not tired today.
I am a motor.
I am cramming in the sugar.
I am running up the hallways.
I am squeezing out the milk.
I am dissecting the dictionary.
I am God, la de dah.
Peanut butter is the American food.
We all eat it, being patriotic.
Dog is out fighting the dollars, rolling in a field of bucks.
You've got it made if you take the wafer, take some wine, take some bucks, the green papery song of the office.
What a jello she could make with it, the fives, the tens, the twenties, all in a goo to feed the baby.
Andrew Jackson as an hors d'oeuvre, la de dah.
I wish I were the U.
Mint, turning it all out, turtle green and monk black.
Who's that at the podium in black and white, blurting into the mike? Ms.
Is she spilling her guts? You bet.
Otherwise they cough.
The day is slipping away, why am I out here, what do they want? I am sorrowful in November.
(no they don't want that, they want bee stings).
Toot, toot, tootsy don't cry.
Toot, toot, tootsy good-bye.
If you don't get a letter then you'll know I'm in jail.
Remember that, Skeezix, our first song? Who's thinking those things? Ms.
Dog! She's out fighting the dollars.
Milk is the American drink.
Oh queens of sorrows, oh water lady, place me in your cup and pull over the clouds so no one can see.
She don't want no dollars.
She done want a mama.
The white of the white.
Anne says: This is the rainy season.
I am sorrowful in November.
The kettle is whistling.
I must butter the toast.
And give it jam too.
My kitchen is a heart.
I must feed it oxygen once in a while and mother the mother.
* Say the woman is forty-four.
Say she is five seven-and-a-half.
Say her hair is stick color.
Say her eyes are chameleon.
Would you put her in a sack and bury her, suck her down into the dumb dirt? Some would.
If not, time will.
Dog, how much time you got left? Ms.
Dog, when you gonna feel that cold nose? You better get straight with the Maker cuz it's coming, it's a coming! The cup of coffee is growing and growing and they're gonna stick your little doll's head into it and your lungs a gonna get paid and your clothes a gonna melt.
Hear that, Ms.
Dog! You of the songs, you of the classroom, you of the pocketa-pocketa, you hungry mother, you spleen baby! Them angels gonna be cut down like wheat.
Them songs gonna be sliced with a razor.
Them kitchens gonna get a boulder in the belly.
Them phones gonna be torn out at the root.
There's power in the Lord, baby, and he's gonna turn off the moon.
He's gonna nail you up in a closet and there'll be no more Atlantic, no more dreams, no more seeds.
One noon as you walk out to the mailbox He'll snatch you up -- a wopman beside the road like a red mitten.
There's a sack over my head.
I can't see.
I'm blind.
The sea collapses.
The sun is a bone.
Hi-ho the derry-o, we all fall down.
If I were a fisherman I could comprehend.
They fish right through the door and pull eyes from the fire.
They rock upon the daybreak and amputate the waters.
They are beating the sea, they are hurting it, delving down into the inscrutable salt.
* When mother left the room and left me in the big black and sent away my kitty to be fried in the camps and took away my blanket to wash the me out of it I lay in the soiled cold and prayed.
It was a little jail in which I was never slapped with kisses.
I was the engine that couldn't.
Cold wigs blew on the trees outside and car lights flew like roosters on the ceiling.
Cradle, you are a grave place.
Interrogator: What color is the devil? Anne: Black and blue.
Interrogator: What goes up the chimney? Anne: Fat Lazarus in his red suit.
Forgive us, Father, for we know not.
Dog prefers to sunbathe nude.
Let the indifferent sky look on.
So what! Let Mrs.
Sewal pull the curtain back, from her second story.
So what! Let United Parcel Service see my parcel.
La de dah.
Sun, you hammer of yellow, you hat on fire, you honeysuckle mama, pour your blonde on me! Let me laugh for an entire hour at your supreme being, your Cadillac stuff, because I've come a long way from Brussels sprouts.
I've come a long way to peel off my clothes and lay me down in the grass.
Once only my palms showed.
Once I hung around in my woolly tank suit, drying my hair in those little meatball curls.
Now I am clothed in gold air with one dozen halos glistening on my skin.
I am a fortunate lady.
I've gotten out of my pouch and my teeth are glad and my heart, that witness, beats well at the thought.
Oh body, be glad.
You are good goods.
* Middle-class lady, you make me smile.
You dig a hole and come out with a sunburn.
If someone hands you a glass of water you start constructing a sailboat.
If someone hands you a candy wrapper, you take it to the book binder.
Once upon a time Ms.
Dog was sixty-six.
She had white hair and wrinkles deep as splinters.
her portrait was nailed up like Christ and she said of it: That's when I was forty-two, down in Rockport with a hat on for the sun, and Barbara drew a line drawing.
We were, at that moment, drinking vodka and ginger beer and there was a chill in the air, although it was July, and she gave me her sweater to bundle up in.
The next summer Skeezix tied strings in that hat when we were fishing in Maine.
(It had gone into the lake twice.
) Of such moments is happiness made.
Forgive us, Father, for we know not.
Once upon a time we were all born, popped out like jelly rolls forgetting our fishdom, the pleasuring seas, the country of comfort, spanked into the oxygens of death, Good morning life, we say when we wake, hail mary coffee toast and we Americans take juice, a liquid sun going down.
Good morning life.
To wake up is to be born.
To brush your teeth is to be alive.
To make a bowel movement is also desireable.
La de dah, it's all routine.
Often there are wars yet the shops keep open and sausages are still fried.
People rub someone.
People copulate entering each other's blood, tying each other's tendons in knots, transplanting their lives into the bed.
It doesn't matter if there are wars, the business of life continues unless you're the one that gets it.
Mama, they say, as their intestines leak out.
Even without wars life is dangerous.
Boats spring leaks.
Cigarettes explode.
The snow could be radioactive.
Cancer could ooze out of the radio.
Who knows? Ms.
Dog stands on the shore and the sea keeps rocking in and she wants to talk to God.
Interrogator: Why talk to God? Anne: It's better than playing bridge.
* Learning to talk is a complex business.
My daughter's first word was utta, meaning button.
Before there are words do you dream? In utero do you dream? Who taught you to suck? And how come? You don't need to be taught to cry.
The soul presses a button.
Is the cry saying something? Does it mean help? Or hello? The cry of a gull is beautiful and the cry of a crow is ugly but what I want to know is whether they mean the same thing.
Somewhere a man sits with indigestion and he doesn't care.
A woman is buying bracelets and earrings and she doesn't care.
La de dah.
Forgive us, Father, for we know not.
There are stars and faces.
There is ketchup and guitars.
There is the hand of a small child when you're crossing the street.
There is the old man's last words: More light! More light! Ms.
Dog wouldn't give them her buttocks.
She wouldn't moon at them.
Just at the killers of the dream.
The bus boys of the soul.
Or at death who wants to make her a mummy.
And you too! Wants to stuf her in a cold shoe and then amputate the foot.
And you too! La de dah.
What's the point of fighting the dollars when all you need is a warm bed? When the dog barks you let him in.
All we need is someone to let us in.
And one other thing: to consider the lilies in the field.
Of course earth is a stranger, we pull at its arms and still it won't speak.
The sea is worse.
It comes in, falling to its knees but we can't translate the language.
It is only known that they are here to worship, to worship the terror of the rain, the mud and all its people, the body itself, working like a city, the night and its slow blood the autumn sky, mary blue.
but more than that, to worship the question itself, though the buildings burn and the big people topple over in a faint.
Bring a flashlight, Ms.
Dog, and look in every corner of the brain and ask and ask and ask until the kingdom, however queer, will come.

Poem by Anne Sexton
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