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.