“I was an ice baby.
I turned to sky blue.
My tears became two glass beads.
My mouth stiffened into a dumb howl.
They say it was a dream
but I remember that hardening.
My sister at six
dreamt nightly of my death:
“The baby turned to ice.
Someone put her in the refrigerator
and she turned as hard as a Popsicle.”
I remember the stink of the liverwurst.
How I was put on a platter and laid
between the mayonnaise and the bacon.
The rhythm of the refrigerator
had been disturbed.
The milk bottle hissed like a snake.
The tomatoes vomited up their stomachs.
The caviar turned to lava.
The pimentos kissed like cupids.
I moved like a lobster,
slower and slower.
The air was tiny.
The air would not do.
I was at the dog’s party.
I was their bone.
I had been laid out in their kennel
like a fresh turkey.
This was my sister’s dream
but I remember that quartering:
I remember the sickbed smell
of the sawdust floor, the pink eyes,
the pink tongues and the teeth, those nails.
I had been carried out like Moses
and hidden by the paws
of ten Boston bull terriers,
ten angry bulls
jumping like enormous roaches.
At first I was lapped,
rough as sandpaper.
I became very clean.
Then my arm was missing.
I was coming apart.
They loved me until
I was gone.”
Read by NSmith
Sexton, Anne. “The Death Baby”, The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981.