It was one of those things to take note of, the choice to use the spare upstairs bathroom at my sister's house, a bathroom that is bare except for the soap dispenser on the white counter, the toilet paper on the roll and a book resting on the top of the tank of the toilet...no hand towels or rugs even, just the soap, the toilet paper, and this book so of course, I noticed the book. It was the only thing that didn't belong there.
And this book looked familiar. It was an anthology of American Literature and I could have sworn it was my book but I couldn't be sure so I opened it up and there, on the back inside cover was my name, my maiden name. That told me the book was one I'd had during my first two years of college and the beauty of this book was that in the margins of so many pages were my words too. Comments, questions, references to other parts of the same story or poem or to other poets or authors altogether. There were question marks, asterisks, underlined passages and passages I'd stricken through. And while I'd folded down several pages in the anthology, there was only one bookmark. That bookmark was a small rectangle of blue cardstock that I vividly remember using at an old video store I worked in during college. We made our own post-its if you will from this blue paper and for me, I'd made a bookmark of it. Again, this was out of place in this book with mostly folded pages so, like the book itself, I took notice.
The page that was marked was an Anne Sexton poem "For My Lover, Returning to his Wife" and while I do not have a recollection of the poem as a whole from reading it before, I quickly read through the poem and found the passage that I am certain resulted in my bookmarking this one page in the middle of a thousand pages. It is the final blow as I like to call it, the slamming of the door at the end of the poem that did it for me, that does it for me still:
I give you back your heart.
I give you permission --
for the fuse inside her, throbbing
angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
and the burying of her wound --
for the burying of her small red wound alive --
for the pale flickering flare under her ribs,
for the drunken sailor who waits in her left pulse,
for the mother's knee, for the stocking,
for the garter belt, for the call --
the curious call
when you will burrow in arms and breasts
and tug at the orange ribbon in her hair
and answer the call, the curious call.
She is so naked and singular
She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
Climb her like a monument, step after step.
She is solid.
As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.
So I read this last night and I've thought about it some more today, about why this poem would come back to me now. But I see it. I took notice. I am a watercolor. I. Wash. Off.