Jen Rouse

The Math of Anne Sexton

I am divided. The brazen
and the long-suffering. Mad
and brilliant and ridiculous
and wrong.  I am never an
easy equation.  Maybe you’ll
try to hold my hand during
lunch and I’ll let you, only to purge
you from these swollen eye
sockets with sticks and empty
stones.  Your words will
always wound me.  So come
closer.  Or don’t come at all—
in this math I never matter.
But I will make you believe
I am a multiplier of souls.

A sum of these parts will
never equal a whole—
of a me,
or a you,
or an us.

Split the petals and make me
your nursery rhyme.  Your oxeye
daisy of truth.  She loves me.
He loves me not.

I am divided.

Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Crab Fat, ParenthesesAnti-Heroin Chic, Wicked Alice, Gulf Stream, and elsewhere. Her work will be included this summer in the Mississippi Review 2018 Prize Issue. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press. Find her at jen-rouse.com and on Twitter @jrouse.

JD Thornton