“The Truth the Dead Know” by Anne Sexton

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.

Anne Sexton, “The Truth the Dead Know” from The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981). Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton and Loring Conant, Jr.

3 thoughts on ““The Truth the Dead Know” by Anne Sexton

    1. You’re so welcome, and thank you. Anne’s work is worth exploring…though much of it leaves a bitter aftertaste, a lingering heartache, her work pierces my gut like few others.

      I’ve seen the one line floating around a bit:
      “It is June. I am tired of being brave.”
      which prompted me to share the poem in its entirety.

      Appreciate your comment, c-


      1. currankentucky

        I’ve since read some on the poetry foundation and I agree, her heartache beats through her poems. So raw. I love her honesty, how she makes me sit up and see myself a bit better too!

        Liked by 1 person

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