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Anne Sexton

The Big Heart 

Too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold.
– from an essay by William Butler Yeats

Big heart, 
wide as a watermelon, 
but wise as birth, 
there is so much abundance 
in the people I have: 
Max, Lois, Joe, Louise, 
Joan, Marie, Dawn, 
Arlene, Father Dunne, 
and all in their short lives 
give to me repeatedly, 
in the way the sea 
places its many fingers on the shore, 
again and again 
and they know me, 
they help me unravel, 
they listen with ears made of conch shells, 
they speak back with the wine of the best region. 
They are my staff. 
They comfort me. 

They hear how 
the artery of my soul has been severed 
and soul is spurting out upon them, 
bleeding on them, 
messing up their clothes, 
dirtying their shoes. 
And God is filling me, 
though there are times of doubt 
as hollow as the Grand Canyon, 
still God is filling me. 
He is giving me the thoughts of dogs, 
the spider in its intricate web, 
the sun 
in all its amazement, 
and a slain ram 
that is the glory, 
the mystery of great cost, 
and my heart, 
which is very big, 
I promise it is very large, 
a monster of sorts, 
takes it all in— 
all in comes the fury of love.

Anne Sexton was an American poet known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book Live or Die.

Debie Thomas:

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