I dance in circles holding
the moth of the marriage,
thin, sticky, fluttering
its skirts, its webs.
The moth oozing a tear,
or is it a drop of urine?
The moth, grinning like a pear,
or is it teeth
clamping the iron maiden shut?

The moth,
who is my mother,
who is my father,
who was my lover,
floats airily out of my hands
and I dance slower,
pulling off the fat diamond engagement ring,
pulling off the elopement wedding ring,
and holding them, clicking them
in thumb and forefinger,
the indent of twenty-five years,
like a tiny rip of a tiny earthquake.
Underneath the soil lies the violence,
the shift, the crack of continents,
the anger,
and above only a cut,
a half-inch space to stick a pencil in.

The finger is scared
but it keeps its long numb place.
And I keep dancing,
a sort of waltz,
clicking the two rings,
all of a life at its last cough,
as I swim through the air of the kitchen,
and the same radio plays its songs
and I make a small path through them
with my bare finger and my funny feet,
doing the undoing dance,
on April 14th, 1973,
letting my history rip itself off me
and stepping into
something unknown
and transparent,
but all ten fingers stretched outward,
flesh extended as metal
waiting for a magnet.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Anne Sexton's poem The Wedding Ring Dance

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