I was tired of being a woman,
tired of the spoons and the post,
tired of my mouth and my breasts,
tired of the cosmetics and the silks.
There were still men who sat at my table,
circled around the bowl I offered up.
The bowl was filled with purple grapes
and the flies hovered in for the scent
and even my father came with his white bone.
But I was tired of the gender things.
Last night I had a dream
and I said to it…
“You are the answer.
You will outlive my husband and my father.”
In that dream there was a city made of chains
where Joan was put to death in man’s clothes
and the nature of the angels went unexplained,
no two made in the same species,
one with a nose, one with an ear in its hand,
one chewing a star and recording its orbit,
each one like a poem obeying itself,
performing God’s functions,
a people apart.
“You are the answer,”
I said, and entered,
lying down on the gates of the city.
Then the chains were fastened around me
and I lost my common gender and my final aspect.
Adam was on the left of me
and Eve was on the right of me,
both thoroughly inconsistent with the world of reason.
We wove our arms together
and rode under the sun.
I was not a woman anymore,
not one thing or the other.
O daughters of Jerusalem,
the king has brought me into his chamber.
I am black and I am beautiful.
I’ve been opened and undressed.
I have no arms or legs.
I’m all one skin like a fish.
I’m no more a woman
than Christ was a man.
Anne Sexton reveals the power of poetry in this piece.She is tired of being limited by gender and would rather enter into a world where gender is put to death. A world where she is haemaphrodite. A world where Adam is on one side of her and Eve on the other.A world of poetry.
i think that this poem is one of my favorites from sexton that i have read yet. it portrays very well the frustration she is now known for having felt with women’s oppression in the pre-feminism american society; but it can easily apply to current feminist issues as well. i love the message that she sends, and in such ironic but beautifully chosen words.