The Body’s Joy
Poem for Anne Sexton because of her poem:
“Little Girl, My String Bean, My Lovely Woman”
Lucky the girl whose mother sees womanhood
begin to bloom upon her daughter
and can accept and love that this is so.
Lucky the girl whose mother does not see
this fruitfulness of summer on its way
and out of envy burn the crop
with remarks that wither, deprecate,
or fill with fear.
Lucky the girl who can lie in fever,
trusting her face into the hand of she
who gave her birth, and while she sleeps
her mother dreams for her,
the pleasures of her body,
beginning to come near.
These pleasures, so acute they take the form
of lemons that become a map of all the world,
and this becomes the way her body,
when she’s born a second time,
will learn geographies of love;
geographies of continental drift,
of hands and eyes and cunt and skin,
geographies of sweat and swamp and lakes at morning
when the mutual greeting of a smile
is all the world has need of to insure
it long primordial spin.
For all is swelling here,
behind the heat of fever in her face,
the garlic buds engorge,
and nearby apples begin their swell,
though true, till now,
she’s been more like the promise of a bean.
Lucky the girl whose mother does not take alarm,
but says to her daughter,
Darling, let your body tie you in, in comfort,
and know there is nothing in our body
that will ever tell you lies,
that all this which seems new
is telling you its truth.
Lucky the girl whose mother,
like a wise old tree,
can reassure her stringbean girl;
lucky the girl who mother loves to make way
for the season of her daughter’s time.