Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I've recently read the poem, "The Abortion" by Anne Sexton for the first time. Strange that I am someone who does this work and happens to love poetry, has not come across this poem before.

The beauty of poetry is that it can be so incredibly personal for the reader. This poem, I feel, could probably be interpreted different ways. Is she sad? Is she angry? Is she being sarcastic? Is she being factual? Is it just about the abortion, or is it about lots of things (her story, her life, her relationship) all at once? A fabric of life, woven with complexity? I suspect it is. All of it. As it - abortion - usually is about "all" of it. Our life in its entirety.

So, what do you Abortioneers think this poem means? Can mean?


Anne Sexton

Somebody who should have been born
is gone

Just as the earth puckered its mouth,
each bud puffing out from its knot,
I changed my shoes, and then drove south.

Up past the Blue Mountains, where
Pennsylvania humps on endlessly,
wearing, like a crayoned cat, its green hair,

its roads sunken in like a gray washboard;
where, in truth, the ground cracks evilly,
a dark socket from which the coal has poured,

Somebody who should have been born
is gone

the grass as bristly and stout as chives,
and me wondering when the ground would break,
and me wondering how anything fragile survives;

up in Pennsylvania, I met a little man,
not Rumpelstiltskin, at all, at all . . .
he took the fullness that love began.

Returning north, even the sky grew thin
like a high window looking nowhere.
The road was as flat as a sheet of tin.

Somebody who should have been born
is gone

Yes, woman, such logic will lead
to loss without death. Or say what you meant,
you coward . . . this baby that I bleed.

*Photo: Anne Sexton's scrapbook.


  1. i have always loved this poem. a lot of women do feel wistful about what could have been if the "logic" of their current situation didn't necessitate the decisions that it did. the poem's natural imagery includes new life and earth-buds and comforting things like green crayoned hair, and also evokes dread and desolation with the bleakness of bare (barren) earth. and i think "the fullness that love began" is a beautiful way to describe a pregnancy you're attached to even when you can't carry to term.


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