When I was a child
there was an old woman in our neighborhood whom we called The Witch.
All day she peered from her second story
window
from behind the wrinkled curtains
and sometimes she would open the window
and yell: Get out of my life!
She had hair like kelp
and a voice like a boulder.

I think of her sometimes now
and wonder if I am becoming her.
My shoes turn up like a jester’s.
Clumps of my hair, as I write this,
curl up individually like toes.
I am shoveling the children out,
scoop after scoop.
Only my books anoint me,
and a few friends,
those who reach into my veins.
Maybe I am becoming a hermit,
opening the door for only
a few special animals?
Maybe my skull is too crowded
and it has no opening through which
to feed it soup?
Maybe I have plugged up my sockets
to keep the gods in?
Maybe, although my heart
is a kitten of butter,
I am blowing it up like a zeppelin.
Yes. It is the witch’s life,
climbing the primordial climb,
a dream within a dream,
then sitting here
holding a basket of fire.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Sexton's poem The Witch’s Life

1 Comment

  1. Dame Dana says:

    I understand this poem as a woman withdrawing from the world around her.Scared of outsiders and only letting her family near her soul.Sort of like Emily Dickinson in her way of isolation from the world.How sad it is , it seems to me, that she was abused by her family in a sexual way from her writings in her poems… locking herself away was her protection… no it was her salvation !
    Dame Dana

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