Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Between Seasons

As November creeps upon us at a startling rate, I thought it appropriate to look at Anne Sexton's bleak and poignant November poem 'Double Image'. Detailing her feelings of insufficiency as a mother, daughter, and human being (the poem specifically references two failed suicide attempts) 'Double Image' is a thoughtful, troubling poem that locates the difficulties of familial relationships in a barren, autumnal setting. 'Double Image' is more like a triple image, Sexton's mother representing what she could not be, and her daughter representing what she cannot be. Neither stoical nor joyous, proper nor carefree, old nor young, Sexton occupies a transitory space. Like Autumn, suspended in between time, an ephemeral season, ill-defined, middling. Between the hot careless days of summer where days blur into one with no order and no need for order, sporadic. And the reverent chill of winter, with its coats and gloves and things which preserve. Sexton's seasons are blocks of wasted time, affirmations of her insignificance, periods to get through rather than to enjoy. Most importantly, they are markers of the distance between herself and her child; the missed years, missed birthdays, missed steps: the complete lack of Joy

I am thirty this November./You are still small, in your fourth year./We stand watching the yellow leaves go queer,/flapping in the winter rain,/falling flat and washed. And I remember/mostly the three autumns you did not live here./They said I’d never get you back again./I tell you what you’ll never really know:/all the medical hypothesis/that explained my brain will never be as true as these/struck leaves letting go./

- Anne Sexton, Double Image.



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