The Truth the Dead Know
For my Mother, born March 1902, died March 1959
and my Father, born February 1900, died June 1959
Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.
We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.
My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one's alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.
And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in their stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.
From The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton, published by Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton. Used with permission.
Anne Sexton was born Anne Gray Harvey in Newton, Massachusetts, on November 9, 1928. She received the 1967 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her third collection, Live or Die (Houghton Mifflin, 1966). She taught at Boston University and at Colgate University, and died on October 4, 1974, in Weston, Massachusetts.
Date Published: 1981-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/truth-dead-know