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Anne Sexton's "The Hoarder"

February 26, 1972

Time & Life Pictures/Getty

"An idler is like a lump of dung; whoever picks it up shakes it off his hand."

There is something there
I've got to get and I dig
down and people pop off and
muskrats float up backwards
and open at my touch like
cereal flakes and still I've
got to dig because there is
something down there is my
Nana's clock I broke it I was
wrong I was digging even then
I had to find out and snap
and crack the hand broke like
a toothpick and I didn't learn
I keep digging for something
down there is my sister's five
dollar bill that I tore because
it wasn't mine was stage money
wasn't mine something down there
I am digging I am digging I will
win something like my first bike
teetering my first balancing act
a grasshopper who can fly she
of the damp smelling passageway
it was earlier much earlier it
was my first doll that water went
into and water came out of much
earlier it was the diaper I wore
and the dirt thereof and my
mother hating me for it and me
loving me for it but the hate
won didn't it yes the distaste
won the digust won and because
of this I am a hoarder of words
I hold them in though they are
dung oh god I am a digger
I am not an idler
am I?