There is joy
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there, Anne"
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
— Anne Sexton
from The Awful Rowing Toward God
Half my life ago, I clung to the confessionals: Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, poets who wrote openly about their struggles with life and the strong pull of death. Like many sad young women, I took Sexton's poem, Wanting to Die, as my own sort of prayer. I traced the lines, knew its terrain as my own:
But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.
I eventually grew up, and sometimes out, of suicidal contemplations. I grew away, too, from the raw, tell-all quality of confessional poets. I began, instead, to hedge and allude. Where once I was direct, I became vague, my emotional edges blunted. It's an evolution I question daily.
Is it the nature of age to soften with time? Today when I read Welcome Morning, I find a new Anne Sexton. One, like me, who sees variation in the gray. For this discovery, I am very thankful.