Regarding Anne Sexton

by Mark Fiddes

About the cigarette hammered between your fingers.
Does it nail you to the world?
I imagine you never puff where inhalations are available,
that you’re always running out of matches.
The problem with this photo is, you’re doing that look
like a thousand grainy poets before and after you.
Eyes left. Like you have just seen a burglar.
You’re projecting more Joan than does you credit:
Crawford, Collins, Fontaine, Sutherland, d’Arc.
This might be fine if you were in the smouldering business
but I had you down as The Stepford Arsonist.
So there’s not much truth in this shot I can believe in,
except that you are sitting on a metal filing cabinet
in a simple white dress fit for a prom or first communion
in front of a book stack that could crush a lumberjack
next to the Royal typewriter you called your “church”
ready, after the photographer has gone, for you to slip
inside again, so thin and high and wide-shouldered,
looking straight ahead at the task in hand.