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45 Mercy Street Analysis



Author: poem of Anne Sexton Type: poem Views: 5

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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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